2 February 2011 – Jonny Stapleton
Willie Casey, a fighter who was unknown in 2009, was crowned Irish Boxer of the Year for 2010 at the National Boxing Awards on Wednesday.
Limericks Big Bang, who has exploded onto the boxing big time over the last 12 months with his Prizefighter and European title wins, was voted best of the Irish boxing bunch by the boxing press. Casey follows in the footsteps of previous winners Paul McCloskey and Bernard Dunne and his latest honour caps of a sensational year for the European super bantamweight champion.
However, Irish boxings Cinderella Man isnt content with his success so far and is planning a fairy tale ending to his fighting rags to riches story. Casey wants to ensure he becomes the first fighter to claim the Irish Boxing of the Year for consecutive seasons by defeating WBA interim-super bantamweight champion Guillermo Rigondeaux on March 19.
I am delighted in a sense that my achievements over the last year are being rewarded. I hope the young lads out there see what hard work can do and are motivated to keep at the boxing, Casey explained.
2010 was a great year. I went to Canada and beat their champion first. Then I won Prizefighter. There are not many men out there can beat three men in one night. Then we went on and won the European title. Hopefully now 2011 will be better. Hopefully will win the World title in City West in March and get a few defences out of it. Then we will pick up this award again, Casey added before stating his individual achievement owe a lot to his team.
It is not just one person that achieves all this. Its about Phil Sutcliffe, Bra Brady, Don OLeary, Joseph Clifford and the entire team, That goes for all the boxers in Dolphil. We are all about team work and its a team effort put in here.
That team and camp ensured Crumlin Gym was the fitting location for the awards.
It was Crumlin and Dolphil Promotions clean sweep with either or both having an obvious link to the gym with Phil Sutcliffe, Anthony Fitzgerald all receiving awards.
Dolphil and Crumlin trainer Sutcliffe picked up the Irish Trainer of the Year award. As well as guiding Willie Casey to Prizefighter and European title glory, the former Irish amateur has turned around the career of Irish super-middleweight champion Anthony Fitzgerald. And like his star man Casey, Sutcliffe was singing of the team work hymn sheet.
Speaking moments after being presented with the award he said I am very proud to win the award. Being professional coach of the year is nice, lets hope I can win the amateur one now. There isnt just one coach of the year here though. It is all about a team effort at Dolphil. I have a team of coaches and this award is for them too. I got coach of the year because of their and the fighters hard work and dedication. Everything seems to be going well for us here at the moment.
Meanwhile, Fitzgerald, who is still beaming after his bill topping win over Lee Murtagh last week, collected the Irish Champion of the Year award. The inner city Dub was recognised as the fighter who has done the most raise the profile of a domestic title.
Having been highlighted as the best Irish Champ of 2010 Fitzgerald, who criticised dormant champions and claimed that knock out defeat early in his career inspired his recent improvement, wants to progress past domestic level.
Im always willing to defend the title. Half the champions wont. They win to say they are Irish champ but then they dont defend the belts. I am moving past that now. We are looking to fight for the EBA title on the undercard of Willies fight. I have to fight someone in the top 15 in the world and those are the fights we want to progress.
Wild Card and Golden Boy prospect Jamie Kavanagh follows in the footsteps of Carl Frampton as Prospect of the Year winner.
And the former Crumlin amateur stand out wants to continue emulating the undefeated Belfast star in waiting by putting a belt beside the award in the trophy cabinet.
Its a great feeling to be getting the Prospect of the Year award, he said. I know Carl Frampton won it last year. I boxed in the amateurs with him and hes doing well and picked up a belt last year. Who knows, I might fight for one myself this year.