28 January 2009 – By Padraig Hoare
Boxing has thrived in small halls in Britain for decades through fabled blood-and-thunder domestic rivalries – Phil Sutcliffe and Don O’Leary see no reason why Ireland should not be the same.
The two men have put together a superb card on Friday night at the Citywest Hotel in Dublin. It will be a blend of the best of Irelands up-and-coming talent, established fighters and superstars in the making – it starts here for the Class of 2009.
The bill features undefeated cruiserweight Ian Tims headlining, one of the country’s most outstanding talents Patrick Hyland, the fearsome Cuban sensation Luis Garcia and, most intriguingly, two undefeated Irish prospects going head-to-head, in Sutcliffe-trained Anthony Fitzgerald (1-0) and Paddy Hyland-trained Robbie Long (2-0, 1 KO). It is not the first time their respective clubs have faced each other – Crumlin’s Paul Griffin and Tallaght’s Patrick Hyland competed for the Irish featherweight title last April, with Hyland stopping the former Olympian in three rounds.
Throw dazzling lightweight Stephen Ormond and fearless light-heavyweight John Waldron into the mix, and you have a very tasty card indeed in the Citywest.
Speaking to irish-boxing.com, Don O’Leary said DolPhil Promotions would strive to provide the public with value-for-money contests between Irish fighters, and the chance to see potential superstars in action before they hit the big time.
“I personally think Anthony Fitzgerald and Robbie Long will be a cracker that could steal the show,” he mused.
“We have seen small hall classics down through the years in Britain – Michael Brodie and Neil Swain is one that springs to mind. Spencer Oliver and Patrick Mullings were involved in a war when they were just starting out. Why shouldnt the Irish public have the same?”
“We saw Colin Moffett and Eugene Heagney battle as if their lives depended on it in December 2007. The scrap between Eddie Hyland and Kevin O’Hara at the National Stadium last April reignited the desire to see Irish lads face each other. It brings out the best in them – Eddie and Kevin’s fight had to be seen to be believed, thats how much desire there was from each fighter.”
“Granted, we cant match everyone of our lads against other Irish opponents every time, but the match between Fitzgerald and Long is a statement of intent. Two boxing clubs with magnificent history, pitting their best prospects against each other. As a fan, I think it doesnt get much better than that.”
Ormond was the talk of the domestic scene following his debut in Killarney last October. The three-time National Senior champion drew the ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ of the crowd as he dismantled his opponent over four rounds at light-welterweight. Ormond fights another four-rounder for his second contest on Friday night at his natural lightweight. According to Don O’Leary, it wont be long before he is ready to take on another decorated amateur.
“Stephen has his target set on lightweight Andy Murray,” he reveals. “There is no bravado or trash-talking nonsense, but Stephen wants to be pitted against the very best – he sees Murray as someone he has to beat.”
“I am convinced we have a special talent on our hands. It would be a cast-iron fight of the year if they were in the ring together. Murray is excellent, but Stephen is exceptional.”
Mayo’s Waldron had a baptism of fire in his debut contest, losing over four rounds to the wiliest of veterans, Ciaran Healy. Despite the loss, Don is has no doubt that the light-heavyweight is a fine prospect.
“In retrospect, it was a big ask to put John in with Ciaran Healy on his debut, but we still felt John won the fight in Killarney,” he insisted.
“Healy has been in with Jamie Moore and has beaten Lee Murtagh, but John wanted the fight. Bernard Hopkins lost his first fight and almost packed in the game – John wanted to get straight back in the ring. That’s the kind of attitude that Phil Sutcliffe and myself want to see.”
An added attraction to the bill is Cuban assassin Luis Garcia. The fearsome super-middleweight is one of the hottest properties in the world of boxing currently, and manager Gary Hyde is convinced he will bulldoze all competitors in 2009, forcing the world sanctioning bodies to rank him before the year is out.
The former World Junior champion is coming off a 105-second demolition of fringe world contender Mantas Tarvydas in only his second fight and Don O’Leary is convinced that the hype is justified.
“This kid is a phenomenon,” he enthused. “Footwork, balance, hand speed, movement, and a bone-chilling punch in each hand. He has the lot.
“If the Citywest card wasn’t good enough, we have this fella added as a special attraction. If I were a fan, I would want to see El Toro in action before he is fast tracked to the world stage.”
The Big Bang Willie Casey misses out this time due to a bereavement but fans wont have to wait long to see the ferocious featherweight, says Don.
“Willie has suffered a terrible loss and we understand completely that he has to be with his family,” he explained.
“But DolPhil Promotions intend to put on at least four shows per year involving the best of Irish boxing, so fighters and fans will not miss out. They will get the chance.
“We are wholeheartedly committed and are not in it for the money. This is for Ireland and the magnificent tradition of boxing in our country.”
“DolPhil Promotions understands that their average fan cannot afford to be shelling out big money in times of recession,” adds Don.
“We have priced the show at 80, 50 and 20. The 20 tickets are available to all children under 16 and for students who have a valid ID. Now, tell me where else that kind of value can be provided for a show with six fights involving future world champions, domestic champions and interclub rivalries?”
Tickets for the CityWest show this Friday night are available from Citywest Hotel on +353 1 401 0500 or contact DolPhil through www.dolphil.com. Alternatively contact Phil Sutcliffe on 087 9719193 or Dave OBrien on 087 9121785.