12 September 2010 – Steve Wellings
In the National Stadiums Battle of Europe co-feature, two international fighters shared the ring to contest the EBU super-bantamweight crown.
24-year-old Kiko Martinez may not hail from either the UK or Ireland but the hard punching Spaniard is familiar to both sets of fight fans. Having starched Irish hero Bernard Dunne in one-round back in 2007, Kiko dropped two points decisions to Rendall Munroe for the same belt (in 2008 and 2009), while fitting a non-title win in between against Lante Addy in Tallaghts Basketball Arena. Martinez continued his love affair with the Emerald Isle by beating Arsen Martirosyan over 12 rounds.
There was a warm reception for Martinez who also enjoyed encouragement from his away supporters. The heavy handed Spaniard boxed more than usual and showed an increased repertoire to keep the tough Martirosyan at bay. Cuts were aplenty as both suffered nicks on the scalp with the Frenchman sporting a badly blooded nose from as early as the fourth-round. What held the Armenian native back was his distinct lack of power, because when he caught Martinez clean (which was more often than expected) he failed to move La Sensacion or cause him to be wary of bulldozing in. Martirosyan had late success with the right hook but was rocked a couple of times when Kiko chose not to box clever. He was solid, if unspectacular, and he did little to deter the growing queue of challengers gathering behind him.
Judges Roger Tilleman and Luigi Muratore totalled 118-110 and Leszek Jankowiak 116-112 all in Martinezs favour. Belgian Daniel Van de Wiele took control inside the ring.
One man with half an eye on main attraction Martinez is Tallaght slickster Paul Hyland. The EU super-bantamweight king used his full range of skills to confuse and bemuse American import Robert DaLuz over eight rounds. Well conditioned DaLuz played the role of pantomime villain, goading Hyland and playing to his sizeable ringside following. Paulie peppered the visitor with trademark flurries while DaLuz busied himself by complaining to ref Emile Tiedt.
By the fifth-round Roberts rushes were the main cause for concern and Hyland used his jab and movement to negate the threat. The current Irish champion landed a solid jab-right hand-left hook combination to cement his eight-round victory, by a score total of 79-74, in what was a good workout.
Galway southpaw Coleman Barrett won his Irish heavyweight title at this venue back in February, outpointing Colin Kenna over ten rounds. Barrett was dropped heavily that night but boxed his way to a decision. He suffered no such trouble in this contest, a four-round formality over Latvias Remigijus Ziausys.
Both men appeared small for the weight and even though podgy Barrett could conceivably make cruiserweight he does move well for a heavyweight and has the ability to give the big boys problems. Coleman hooked well off the southpaw jab in the early stages but suffered his now customary slip in concentration in the third round. Whether it is fatigue or a case of switching off, Barrett must curb this trait as Ziausys gained enough encouragement to land some right hands. Coley staved off the away mans advances to take a 39-37 verdict on David Irvings slate.
A title defence against Belfasts returning star Martin Rogan has been spoken about and would appear a sensible move for both men; failing that, Barrett could feasibly mix it with Irish-based Cuban Mike Perez as an acid test to see just how far both men could go.
Finglas super-middleweight Brendan Fitzpatrick entered the ring to a rapturous reception and sent his sizeable following home happy with a second-round dismissal of Polands Mariusz Radziszewski.
Fitzpatrick showed good skills and plenty of schooling from John Breen in his Belfast base, tucking in the rib crunchers to make sure Radziszewskis trip abroad was an uncomfortable one. Fitzpatrick had sustained a nosebleed somehow by the second but did not let it affect him as the left hook sunk home to send Mariusz to the canvas. He clambered vertical but shipped another burst of punches that sent him down and out at 2:18 of the session.
There is no doubt that pride was on the line when fellow Dubliners Anthony Fitzgerald and Robbie Long clashed for the formers super-middleweight belt.
These two warriors had already shared the ring twice before with one win a piece it made for a natural rubber match. Take Longs year of inactivity, coupled with Fitzgeralds three fights during that time, and the result would have appeared a formality. In the end it was Anthony who prevailed by an extremely narrow 96-94 score in which opinion varied at ringside as to who had done enough for the win.
Anthony was reaching early on as Long flexed his left hook and jab, while eating some tasty rights from the champion. Fitz was uncharacteristically wild in the opening stages with Long building a lead with his slow and steady forward attack, led by a quality range finder. While this scrap did not contain the sheer toe-to-toe aggression of their previous two encounters, it was an absorbingly tactical affair and while never truly exploding, both men left with huge amounts of credit.
Anthonys jab and timing were coming into play in round six and Robbie was still stalking but not effectively landing as the champions right hand thudded home repeatedly. Long had found a home for his body punches and despite visible tiredness rallied himself to land some big shots as Fitzgerald suddenly fatigued. Both men missed as the action rocked back and forth in the final stages before Fitzgerald discovered the missing accuracy to steal victory at the last and retain his title. These two are perfectly well matched and their styles made for another classic small hall battle.
No card would be complete without an appearance from the Cubans and two of the three Caribbean pugilists were on show here, with super-bantamweight Alexei Acosta opposing Oscar Chacin and super-middleweight Luis Garcia tackling Christian Cruz.
Two fights ago Acosta bettered former Bernard Dunne victim Felix Machado and was set to face another ex-Dunne opponent in the form of Christian Faccio. Unfortunately Faccio was unable to take part in a tasty looking encounter and Alexei found himself entertaining Chacin, a veteran Venezuelan who has mixed in good company, over eight rounds.
Acosta does tend to slap a little and switches off in fights, but generally used speed and flexibility to keep Chacin honest. The import had gone ten rounds with former world champion Lorenzo Parra in his last contest and was more than just an average journeyman. Oscar sucked up Acostas left hook to the body and gave back some leather via the right hand; as Alexei posed and feinted, Oscar looking like a man who had seen it all before.
Both men seemed to be enjoying the dance, smiling at each other in centre ring until round six when Acosta unloaded some regular combinations that had Chacin looking ragged. Referee David Irving was unhappy at the way the Venezuelan was taking a few on the ropes and promptly intervened. Chacin was outraged and wasted no time in storming from the ring. Once Acosta is really tested then we shall see how far he can go and the Faccio match is thankfully still on the cards.
One man who can go all the way is his 22-year-old compatriot Garcia. The super-middleweight has been lauded in Ireland and across the pond for his performances in the gym and sparring sessions. So far it had not transferred itself into competitive action but after a couple of rung rust shedding assignments Luis stepped up against rugged American Christian Cruz, a man who had lasted beyond ten rounds with both Jean Pascal and Lucien Bute.
Sacramento man had no answer for the slashing body shots and thumping combinations that Garcia was repeatedly raining in on him. A bloody nose and battered torso had Cruz taking a glance for the exit as early as the second round in this scheduled eight. By the third he was down from more intense body work and despite rising bravely was pummelled to defeat at 1:59 of the round. Emile Tiedt was the third man and Garcia looked the real deal in this one.
Dublin welterweight Gavin Prunty is a flamboyant character who loves putting on a show. The top rope jumping and flashy demeanour aside Prunty can actually fight a bit, as Polish visitor Arek Malek found out in their show closing four-rounder. Lanky Prunty used his whipping hooks and awkward movement to pot shot his way to a decision win.