22 January 2010 – Press Release
His name might not be overly familiar to Irish sports fans but Peter Maher holds a unique place in Irish boxing history.
The Galway man was the first ever Irish Heavyweight Champion winning the title in 1890 before going on to win the World Heavyweight title in 1895.
Now 120 years after being crowned Ireland’s first heavyweight champ another Galway man wants to follow in Maher’s footsteps with Coleman Barrett aiming to lift the Irish title when he takes on Colin Kenna on the Yanjing Fight night at the National Stadium, Dublin on Saturday, February 13.
Barrett a first cousin of Olympian Francis Barrett was also a highly decorated amateur winning a Bronze medal at the World Juniors in 2000 but by him own admission his professional career has been a slow burning one. After winning his first six paid outings Barrett took a four year sabbatical from the ring only returning last year.
I had a lot of family problems during that time; my sister passed away from cancer and my mind just wasn’t on the job, said Barrett.
Boxing is a sport you can’t do half heartedly. It has to be all or nothing and at that time my heart just wasn’t in it. Eventually though I felt the hunger coming back and once I got back in the gym again I knew it was time to make a fresh start.
After a couple of wins to shake off the inevitable ring rush Barrett found himself with an invite to the Prizefighter tournament, an eight man elimination series taking place over one night and an event that has proved to be wildly popular with Sky Sports viewers.
Barrett turned out to be the surprise package of a tournament that included names such as Olympic Gold medallist Audley Harrison and one time Mike Tyson conqueror and British Champ Danny Williams.
In his opening bout Barrett used his boxing ability to impressively outpoint former British Champion Scott Gammer. In his semi final Barrett saw off Carl Baker despite conceding over five stones in weight to set up a final showdown with Audley Harrison.
Barrett started the decider well and appeared to be on his way to scoring a massive upset and scooping the 32,000 top prize before the big Londoner found the punches to stop the Galway native.
I don’t think too many people knew who I was going in to Prizefighter but I trained very hard for it and I gave it a a good go, said Barrett.
Unfortunately it wasn’t to be and to get beaten in the final was very disappointing but overall it was great experience for me and I’d I’d love the opportunity to reverse that defeat and set the record straight with Audley. He’s fighting for the European title soon so who knows, maybe if he wins that he’ll give me a shot at it.
I’m not going to start shouting about winning this title or that title, I’ll go about my business in my own way but I know that I can go places. I’m still only 27 and that’s very young in the heavyweight division now days so I know that with the right fights I’ll be there or thereabouts over the next couple of years.
First on the agenda though is next month’s Irish title clash with Kenna and Barrett says he’s leaving no stone unturned as he steps up preparations for the bout. I don’t know Colin and we’ve never met before but I can guarantee you I’m looking forward to meeting him in the ring. I’ll watch plenty of his fights over the next few weeks and I’ll come up with a plan for him.
I’ll be getting plenty of quality sparing for it. I’m hoping to spar the European Champion, Albert Sosnowski next week and I’ll also be sparring with some of the top British heavyweights like Michael Sprott and Derek Chisora so I’ll be 100 per cent ready for Kenna.
To win the Irish title will be a dream come true. It will be a nice one for the record books too when you consider that the first man to win it was a Galway man as well. If I can go on to achieve what he did I won’t have done too badly.
The Boxing Union of Ireland have mandated that the winner of next month’s fight must make their first defence against Belfast’s Martin Rogan and Barrett says thats a fight he’d relish.
I think myself and Martin would be a great fight and I’d love to defend against him. I’ve a lot of respect for what he’s achieved in the last few years beating the likes of Audley Harrison, Matt Skelton and winning the Commonwealth title but I don’t fear anyone so as they say in boxing, let’s get it on!
Naturally Kenna believes he will be the man defending against Rogan and not Barrett. The Dubliner is a former Prizefighter contestant himself and previously held the British Southern Area title. A brother of former Irish soccer international Jeff Kenna the 33-year-old says that winning the Irish title would fulfil a career long ambition.
This is a title I’ve wanted since the day I’ve tuned pro, said Kenna. I’m really fired up for this one and although I’m based in Southampton I’m a very proud Dubliner so it will be extra special getting to fight for it in my hometown. I know that if I win it there will be some big fights out there for me.
The Yanjing Fight Night at the National Stadium, Dublin on February 13 sees a record breaking four Irish titles up for grabs. The main event features the eagerly awaited Irish Lightweight title clash between the unbeaten Andy Murray and Oisin Gael Force Fagan. Undefeated Dubliner Patrick Hyland defends his Irish Featherweight title against Mickey Coveney while Anthony Fitzgerald and Lee Murtagh contest the Irish Super Middleweight title.
Two non-title fights on the bill will see featherweight prospect Willie Casey and new Belfast pro Jamie Conlan looking to extend their unbeaten records.
Tickets for the Yanjing Fight Night priced 30, 40, 50 and 60 are available from Ticketmaster (phone 0818 719 300 or visit ticketmaster.ie) and all usual outlets.