26 September 2009 – By Steve Wellings
After Andy Murray broke his collarbone in training, heavyweight Tyson Fury was handed the chief supporting role on the undercard for Saturday’s world title clash between Bernard Dunne and Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym at the O2 in Dublin.
Opponent Tomas Mrazek looked bemused as Fury entered the ring to traditional Irish music, donning green shorts with the words Clann Fury emblazoned alongside a tricolour flag. Playing on his Tipperary and Galway roots, the crowd responded in kind, but the ensuing spectacle was frankly lacklustre.
Southpaw Mrazek was in reasonable shape at 222.5llb and game, but ultimately too small and the truth of his record revealed four wins out of 31 attempts. Fury (261llb) took advantage of the size difference by prodding the jab in round one and hammering the body, reddening his foes left eye in the second session but showing no great levels of urgency.
The Manchester man later revealed he had hurt his hand in that round, which would explain the way he went through the motions for the remainder of the fight. He continued to hunt the body and looked slightly uncomfortable when the wild swinging Czech opponent backed him up. By the fifth round matters had become significantly low key following the initial fanfare but Fury, with Robert McCracken in his corner, did cut the wilting Mrazek and drop him in the final stanza with a body shot. Tyson pushed his man repeatedly to the ropes with no admonishment from ref Emile Tiedt- but couldnt find the finisher. I scored it a shutout 60-53 while Mr. Tiedt gave a stranger 60-57, but the right man won. After the final bell one ringside observer behind me said to a colleague, “I heard he was better than that,” which just about summed it up.
“I love fighting here, its like nowhere Ive fought before,” Fury noted in his post-fight interview. I damaged my right knuckle in the second round which was very sore but I enjoyed the fight and this is a great crowd. When I win my world title Ill make the first defence in Croke Park.”
After he made his way out of the ring, accompanied by promoter Mick Hennessy, several ringsiders were introduced to the crowd. Biggest cheer of the night was once again reserved for the immensely popular Katie Taylor, as the roof was raised for the shy Irishwoman. Brian Peters organised a fitting video tribute to Darren Sutherland which culminated in a minutes applause.
Michael Sweeney made a mockery of pre-fight predictions that his scrap with Limericks Jamie Power was a 50/50 affair; the Mayo man blasted Power away with ease in three rounds. Referee Mickey Vann was once again a welcome sight as he skated around the Irish ring, having been banished from the British scene due to age restrictions. He was soon dishing out a count as Power (177.5llb) tasted the canvas following a heavy combination from Sweeney, who at178.8llb had slimmed down for this light-heavyweight encounter. Jamie rose unsteadily and staggered around the ring so much I wondered if it would be allowed to continue. Ducking in low to avoid the blows was meat and drink to the taller, leaner Sweeney who teed off with greater skill and accuracy as his foe strode in to range. Michael has always had ability but his application was in question. That was jot the case here, as even an accidental head clash could not derail his charge.
By the second round a class gap had developed, with Powers static head absorbing the majority of Sweeneys jabs and straight right hands. The left hook and uppercut were also evident as Michael used the full repertoire it was starting to appear just a matter of time before the finisher. That came in the third, as Power went down twice; the first was a left hook with Sweeney adding a second for good measure whilst Jamie crumpled to the floor. That was naughty and referee Vann wasnt slow about telling Sweeney as much, before ushering Power to the doctor for an inspection over his now bleeding left eye. The blood was running away from the eye, down the cheek, but hindered Jamie further and when he shipped left and rights in the neutral corner, Mickey Vann stepped in before it was called off. A badly cut eye, on medical advice, was the official line but the well supported Limerick native was taking a beating. Sweeney, trained by Sean Mannion, could go places if he continues to in this vein. His next fight, however, may be in the courts with estranged manager Tommy Egan who did not give his blessing for the eight rounder to take place.
In a marking time 6x3s Lurgan hope Stephen Haughian was held to a surprise draw by unheralded Estonian Albert Starikov. The stocky Eastern-European was game but still afforded the first three sessions to Haughian as the Irish welterweight champion prodded away with his jab and controlled the ring. It was a routine, if uninspiring, performance by Stephen (149.5llb) right up until the fourth round when the bout suddenly turned on its head.
A looping left hook from Starikov caught Haughian high on the head and he was at sixes and sevens, trying to recoup before being bludgeoned to the canvas. Starikov (151.5llb) was unceremonious yet effective as his slashing hooks smashed the Irishmans head from pillar to post. Stephen grabbed, smothered and fiddled his way to the end of the round, but the crisis resumed in the fifth round. Starikovs punches carried extra weight as Haughian battled his way through a storm, pushing a sluggish jab and shipping continued left hooks.
Frustrated by inactivity and a failure of the big fights to materialise, Haughian was just keeping active yet developed a delicate look as the fight progressed; something that has never been an issue in previous outings. I thought he took the last session to eek out a 58-56 win, yet referee David Irving felt otherwise, awarding Starikov a share at 57-57. Haughian looked distraught as he left the ring, while trainer John Breen was incensed, remonstrating with Irving, waving his arms around in disgust Irving, a former pro himself, remained unperturbed.
One third of the Hyland siblings, Patrick, negotiated six rounds of a scheduled eight with Spanish based Venezuelan Manuel Sequera. The 32 year-old southpaw wasnt in prime condition yet knew how to survive and used the full circumference of the ring to thwart Hylands plans. Patrick (126llb) used his sprightly jab and good basics to keep the visitor Honest yet by the third Patricks face was a mask of blood after an assumed clash of heads.
Luckily it never became a factor and the Tallaght man continued to press forward when, midway through the sixth round, he caught Manuel on the ropes and began to tee off. Sequera (130llb) covered up and attempted to ride out the storm, but as a few slipped through the guard Emile Tiedt began to hover and dived in, much to Sequeras abhorrence. The import pushed the ref away and complained bitterly in his corner while the announcements were made. While the stoppage may have been a little premature, Sequera had been halted in eight of his fifteen losses and Hyland was well on his way to victory anyway. The time was recorded as 0.33 of the round and the talented winner moves to 17-0.
In an exciting show opener Oisin Fagan was dropped early yet rallied back to knock down his opponent, Juris Ivanovs, in the same round, before knocking him out in the next. Coming off the back of a stirring Dublin battle with Eddie Hyland, Fagan (140.5llb) looked sluggish early on and a left hook dropped him on his backside. He may have been off balance as well but didnt dispute the ruling, opting to trade and get the job done early instead. Oisin shipped a couple more for good measure but by the end of the round Ivanovs (142llb) was blowing, and a right to the body forced him to slump to the ropes for respite.
As we debated at ringside whether it was a 10-10 or 9-9 round, the scoring was rendered academic in the next session; with Ivanovs not fully recovered, Fagan piled on the pressure and a flurry of blows dropped the Latvian. Juris rose but didnt want any further punishment so referee Mickey Vann rightfully called it off with 0.36 gone in the second. After a brief flirtation with super-featherweight, Oisin, now under the stewardship of Phil Sutcliffe, was back up to his more natural light-welterweight limit.
Another Sutcliffe charge, Anthony Fitzgerald, was given a run-out as he aimed to banish the demons he suffered from a knockout loss on the last big Dunne card. Unknown Tadas Jonkus provided the opposition in this four rounder and Anthony (163.5llb), who brought with him good local support, showed improved defence and a more solid style in out boxing his man for the majority of the contest. Jonkus (159.5llb) sat slumped on his stool between rounds, more befitting to a day at the beach than a professional boxing match, yet played his part and kept busy.
Fitzgerald kept his hands higher and pumped the jab, before abusing Jonkuss torso in the third and delighting his fans by pushing for a final round KO. It never came but I gave him every round at 40-36 while David Irving disagreed slightly, awarding the Dubliner victory by a score of 39-37. Fitzgerald meets Rob Long in an anticipated rematch in the National Stadium next month; the first was a good scrap which saw Long prevail over the six round distance after coming on strong late.