Peter McDonagh tonight became a three-time Irish champion at the National Stadium. The MGM fighter narrowly, but deservedly, outpointed Dubliner Dean Byrne in an exciting fight that began tentatively but turned into more and more of a war as the rounds crept by. Indeed the Galway man had to fight through the pain barrier more than once to secure the emotional win in a FOTY contender.
It was a cagey opening with McDonagh on top with his jab and landing the only two or three shots of note.
Byrne was more elusive in the second but again was outworked by the Galway man
McDonagh began the third stanza strong, however Byrne fought back well – but a big hook by McDonagh in the final 30 seconds more than likely secured him the round.
In the fourth Byrne initially had trouble getting past McDonagh’s jab, but the second half of the round saw them beginning to trade, with the MGM fighter getting the better of the exchanges, but Byrne scoring an eye-catching right towards the end.
The fight became a war in the fifth and McDonagh was clearly hurt but bravely bit down on his gumshield and punched his way to the end of the round – much to the delight of the large MGM fanbase in attendance.
It was a brilliant recovery for McDonagh who battled for supremacy with the jab in a close sixth round.
McDonagh, belying his 37 years, was in control in seventh round, out-jabbing Byrne and landing the cleaner shots when forced to trade.
The eight round of this title fight was a potential round of the year – Byrne hurt McDonagh early, but the Westerner clung on and then hurt Byrne in the closing stages of the stanza – all set to the backdrop of the two sets of fans chanting their respective boxer’s name.
The war continued in the penultimate round and McDonagh found himself on the canvas – but the shot was adjudged to have been a low blow and the Dubliner was docked a point. McDonagh rose and fought back in a firefight. Byrne was the stronger in the exchanges but McDonagh ended the round on top.
Needing a knockout, Byrne chased the final round, with McDonagh circular and keeping out of trouble until the final bell where the elated Irishman was mobbed by his two daughters.
It was a chard-fought battle, but McDonagh was a close but clear winner after a few sticky moments and the referee’s scorecard of 97-95 reflects this.
McDonagh now has a third Irish title to add to his light welterweight and light middleweight straps.
Photo credit – Ricardo Guglielminotti The Fighting Irish (@ThefIrish)