23 July 2009 – By Mark Doyle
Oisin Fagan has gotten very few lucky breaks during his boxing career so he intends to make the most of the one which has come his way courtesy of Eddie Hyland.
On Saturday night, Fagan will meet the eldest of the Hyland brothers for the vacant IBF International super-featherweight title at the National Basketball Arena in Tallaght, Dublin, in what should prove the most exciting domestic dust-up of the year.
The well travelled Fagan, now 35, thought that his days in the spotlight were over after his second-round stoppage defeat at the hands of Amir Khan last December. That Gael Force had suffered a broken leg in the opening stanza of that particular bout was rather harshly overlooked by many, and Fagan was dismissed as a spent force on the back of the loss.
Determined to prove himself once more, though, he put in long, gruelling hours in the treatment room and declared himself fit to fight on the undercard of Bernard Dunnes world title showdown with Ricardo Cordoba in March. The only trouble was, the Boxing Union of Ireland did not agree with him and he was consigned to the shadows once more.
However, Paddy Hyland, Eddies promoter and manager, offered him a slot on a show in Mayo in May and Fagan made a successful return to the ring, stopping Asen Vasilen in the fifth of six scheduled rounds.
Hyland senior came calling again later in the summer, offering Fagan a shot at eldest son Eddie, who was keen to take on a talented and respected fighter who would take him to ‘the next level’.
The only problem on paper was that the bout would be at super-featherweight and Fagans last two bouts, against Khan and Vasilen, had been at lightweight and light-welterweight respectively.
However, Fagan accepted the fight immediately and is now adamant that the Hylands are going to rue their generosity in handing him an unexpected title shot.
“Its hard to explain how much Im looking forward to this fight. This is a chance that really did come out of the blue for me and Im very grateful to the Hylands for that fact, he admits to irish-boxing.com.
“But I had been thinking of dropping down to super-featherweight to challenge Eddie for his Irish title anyway. A lot of people thought that I had the frame for it and that I could pull it off, so it had been on my mind for maybe three weeks before the call came from the Hylands.
“I think that they might have thought that I’d be still hovering around the ten stone mark when they got in touch but I’d already started to lose the weight, so I think they could be in for a big surprise on Saturday night.
“They probably thought I’d struggle and maybe come in a little weight-drained, but even though it has been tough, I feel good and am pretty confident. I think I’m in great shape.
“And this is the perfect opportunity for me to put the disappointment of the Khan defeat behind me. I was devastated at how the injury ruined my chances that night because I really believed he was vulnerable, but I’m delighted with the way things have turned out.
“I made a quick recovery, got a fight under my belt in May and now, here I am, at 35, fighting for a title which will push me back into the top 12 in the world. I really can’t wait to get in there.”
However, Fagan is well aware that in Hyland, who is seven years is junior and the current Irish super-featherweight champion, he is going up against a very accomplished performer.
The former schoolteacher, though, is confident that he will have too much savvy and ring experience for his opponent.
“Eddie’s a very good fighter; I have a lot of respect for him. He’s tough and he’s strong. He’s also more skilful than me – but then again, who isn’t? he jokes.
“I’m not known for my boxing skills. I’m known for my toughness, my resilience and my work-rate and I really feel that I can wear him down. I’m relentless in my pressure and I think that will eventually take its toll on him.
“I’ve been in with a lot of top quality guys during my career and all of them have found me awkward to deal with so I believe that I will have too much for Eddie on Saturday night.”
However, whatever happens in the ring, Fagan believes that there will be no bad blood between the pair after the final bell sounds.
“Eddie’s a really nice guy. I get on with him very well, and all of the Hylands really,” he reveals.
“Hopefully be able to have a drink together afterwards.
“But this is boxing and sometimes you have to fight friends so for 12 rounds I’m sure we’ll both be putting our friendship to one side and really going at it because there’s a lot at stake here.
“This is a great opportunity for both of us and Im going to do everything I can to make sure that I’m the one who takes it.”