17 January 2009 – By Mark Doyle
Michael Sweeney will be the first Irish fighter to benefit from the Banner Promotions – Tommy Egan Promotions joint venture.
The Mayoman will travel to St Quentin, France for a Valentine’s Day date on the undercard of Cristobal Cruz and Cyrill Thomas’ IBF World Title clash.
Sweeney has been working with Rosmuc icon Sean Mannion ahead of the contest and is hopeful that 2009 will be the year he emerges as a genuine title contender.
“I am really excited about this year and the fight coming up. Things have changed dramatically; my career has jumped from zero to one hundred percent,” he enthused.
“I am delighted to be with Banner Promotion and Tommy Egan. They have given me a great opportunity and I am going to grab it with both hands. I am going to be fighting all over the world this year and on some top class shows.
“I was really excited when I fought on the undercard of Bernard Dunne and Andy Lee, but being part of a World Title show, you can’t get better than that. I fought in Boston last year and the reception was great.
“Now I am in France on Valentines Day. My wife is really excited about that, but all I will be focused on will be fighting and winning. A lot lies in store for me now. Tommy Egan has been great and has done brilliant work for me and could do a lot for Irish boxing.”
“There is a big difference now. When I started out training and trying to get into the game I found it difficult. It’s the same for all fighters. Then you get on a show you have to sell tickets which is also a nightmare and can affect your training, which in turn can affect your performance.
“That’s a thing of the past now, I have guaranteed fights, and on great cards. Also my training isn’t interrupted by worries of ticket sales.
“Every fighter wants to fight for World Titles and I am no different. That is up to my team though, but I would like to fight for an Irish Title in the summer if possible.” he added.
Not having to worry about ticket sales or the business end of the pro game will not be the only improvement to the Mayo fighter’s preparations.
Sweeney will ready himself to take on a yet to be named opponent in Saint Quentin on February 14 under the guidance of the man who went 15 rounds with the great Mike McCallum, Sean Mannion.
“We have high hopes for Michael and we have put him in with Sean Mannion because we think he can help him reach his potential,” Sweeney’s manager Tommy Egan explained.
“Sean Mannion is an Irish boxing legend. He has fought five world champions and he will be a great asset to Michael. To have such experience and knowledge in his corner will really benefit Michael.
“I have the greatest admiration for Sean. He was the toughest Irish fighters of all time. He was never put down in 59 fights in America.
“In 1984 he went 15 rounds with the famed Mike ‘the body snatcher’ McCallum a fight which was joint top of the bill with Marvin Hagler and Mustafa Hamsho in Madison Square Garden. Sean is a legend of Irish boxing, but like most that went to America little was known of him here.
“Every time I go to the States people can not speak highly enough about him. He would have really benefited from the Banner Promotion Tommy Egan deal. It’s a pity this type of deal didn’t exist then and Sean himself has said that and commended what we are doing for Michael and Irish boxing.” Egan added before explaining why they feel it best Sweeney trains with his fellow Westerner.
“Michael has the chance to display his talents on a World Title under card and in front of a global audience. He will be on American, French and most likely Irish TV and if he proves himself can benefit from the Tommy Egan Banner Promotion joint venture and eventually secure European and World Title shots, and we think his fellow Westerner Sean can prepare him for such bouts.”