By Jonny Stapleton
The entertainment may have been cut short in The Emerald Roadhouse last night, but such was the manner of victory for most of the home fighters celebrations must have carried long into the night.
The first Irish pro show of the year was a hit to say the least and despite lasting just over an hour was certainly value for money.
Four of the six bouts didn’t make it past round one, as Willie Casey, Raymond Ginley, Joe Hillerby and Anthony Cacace made redundant the referees score card by taking their opponent’s out before the second bell.
The fuse to the explosive night was lit by Gerard Healy, but in comparison to what came after the first fight was more matchstick than dynamite.
The Belfast pug registered a comfortable 40-36 victory over Oleksiy Chukov, that was more routine than dramatic. Healy looked compact, focused, improved and dominated from start to finish.
The 28 year old had the ability to up it a level and possibly cause his opponent more trouble. However, having lost his last two bouts seemed content just secure the win.
Winning was obviously on Ray Ginley’s mind, but the debutant wanted to do it in impressive fashion.
The 18 year old light heavyweight was welcomed to the pro fight game by two stiff shots to the head, but responded in a sensational manner.
‘Sugar Ray’s’ first ever significant paid punch was certainly sweet. A short right sent Stuart Maddox to the canvas and had ’Mad Dog’ on all fours.
The English puncher did rise to his feet, but a composed Ginley ensured he didn’t get to hear the bell or the chance to sit on his stool.
Referee Paul McCullough was forced to halt proceedings 2;50 seconds into the tie.
Phil Collin’s ‘In The Air’ tonight accompanied Anthony Cacace into the ring much to the bemusement of those ring side-but it seemed a fitting tune by the time he dispatched Ben Wagner inside a round.
First round knock outs where that ‘something’ in the air and became the theme of the night, but the exotically named Belfast fighter’s KO was easily the best.
The fight menu’s second debutant literally beat Ginley to the punch and halted his fight after just 1:05.
The former amateur stand out looked as impressive as anyone could in less than a round and had Wagner on the floor with a smashing over hand right, before forcing the referee to jump in and stop the fight.
How do you follow two first round knock outs? Well if you Joe Hillerby, with another.
The undefeated Belfast pro played matador to the Bull that was Tommy Tolan last time he fought in his home town, but came charging forward against Aleksandrs Radjuks.
‘The Faith’ didn’t send ’The Plane’ crashing to the canvas, but a sustained period of unanswered pressure left the referee with no option but to stop the fight with just 2:05 seconds gone.
Having been stopped just seven times in over 80 fights there was no way a man who would rival Bear Grills survival skills, Johnny Greaves was going to be stopped by Mark Ginley.
However what the fight lacked in knockout action it made up for in fistic fury.
Greaves, who is the most loved pantomime baddie since Alan Rickman played The Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood, was touted as ‘The Situation’s’ toughest test to date- and he certainly lived up to his billing.
The home fighter looked comfortable and some what stylish over the first two rounds, but the English ring veteran landed a sizeable number of shots in the last two stanzas.
Indeed Greaves took the third and came close to stealing what initailly looked like an unlikely draw. Ginley showed a chin and great heart to eventually claim a 39-37 ‘learning‘ fight win.
Next up was the ‘Big Bang’ and the Limerick favourite maintained the explosive theme to proceedings. The Jewel of the Emerald Promotions Crown capped of an impressive night of action stopping David Kanalas 2:40 into the first round.
The charismatic southpaw had the English fighter down twice with ripping body shots.