Joe Blogs #2 – Our New Normal

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Ray Moylette v Larry Fryers – OFF

Mick Conlan v Belmar Preciado – OFF

Olympic qualifiers – OFF

Ring Kings 2 – OFF

Celtic Clash 11 – OFF

Steven Donnelly v Troy Williamson – OFF

The list goes on and on as Irish boxing – and the world – endured a horrible few days as what we know to be ‘normal’ changed.

There’s not much to write about these days but we, like everyone, must persist. It’s going to be like this for a while.

Corona Chaos

I think it has now finally dawned on everyone – bar Stephen Sharpe from Boxing Ireland Promotions – the sheer enormity of the disruption which currently faces us.

Obviously (and do writers even need to still put these disclaimers in?), public health is the most important thing here but, if we’re to focus on Irish boxing, the landscape has been changed utterly.

Boxing-wise, it is those nearer the bottom, on my beloved ‘domestic scene’, that will perhaps be least affected in the ring. Those for whom a BUI Celtic or Irish title is the height of their ceiling can go back in at this level if-ever normality is resumed. However, while the likes of Dominic Donegan v Graham McCormack is just ‘on pause’, it’s hard not to worry about our elite talents.

We have an, admittedly small, number of fighters who actually depend on boxing as their primary source of income and whose climbing careers have a very real, and rapidly diminishing, timescale.

It is wrong to scaremonger, I know, and it’s not my intention, but what of the already undisputed queen of self-isolation, Katie Taylor? Let’s just say I haven’t booked flights to Manchester for May.

Going deeper into the year, will Carl Frampton get the send-off he deserves at Windsor Park? Will we be in the clear for the Féile an Phobail and Mick Conlan’s step up to the big leagues?

Will Brendan Irvine’s qualification for the Tokyo Olympics still stand (it bleedin’ better) now that the qualifiers have to be reorganised and the Games themselves could be delayed?

In Limbo

One of the more-frequently used clichés in boxing is about ‘controlling the controllables’ and I suppose that is true more than ever now. However, for me at least, it’s impossible to ignore the swirling shitstorm going on outside our own containment bubble – unless you’re one of the worryingly large number of boxers I’m seeing spouting conspiracy theories. Cop on, lads, seriously.

It is scary, and will continue to be scary but we just have to follow the experts and we will get there – whenever that may be.

Most importantly, for sanity’s sake, we need to extract every bit of joy where we can find it.

Irish Pride

Thankfully, in these rather grim times, there are still plenty of spots of joy to keep the spirits up. Fittingly, on this of all weeks, it was Irish boxers providing some smiles.

On Monday evening Brendan Irvine put injury hell and general doomsday feeling to one side to turn in a simply electric performance and qualify for the Olympics at the first time of asking. Class, simply, is permanent.

All that celebrating around my kitchen was the only activity I personally got up to on Monday but I was heartened to see the massive uptake for the first of hopefully many home workouts with Eric Donovan. Maybe next time.

Also, if more people could be like Martin Wall it would be great. Where some of the aforementioned boxers are swallowing misinformation, I’ve noticed Martin calling them out, speaking rationally, and even enquiring about how to help in his local community. Sound guy.

On top of this then, of course, you have many Irish boxers involved in the healthcare system, An Garda Síochána, the Armed Forces, and other essential services whose work is so gratefully appreciated. Heroes the lot of them.

Quick Hits

  • Last weekend saw the last of pro boxing for the foreseeable and there was a fun two-round shootout between Jay Farrell and Damian Chambers in Liverpool for the BBBoC Central Area cruiserweight title. Worth a few minutes of your time – we all have plenty of it, anyway.

  • I spent my St Patrick’s night in bed with a few cans of 75 cent ALDI beer listening to the Dropkick Murphys stream an entire concert worldwide to hundreds of thousands. I’d recommend both.

  • I’ve after buying myself an Xbox One to cope with the isolation (sorry, Jonny, I know I should be doing more writing). Could really do with a new Fight Night game around now.

Bet of the Week

Despite my severe lack of manliness, I’m trying to grow a beard in these slovenly times. 11/8 says I can get all the bits to join up by the end of this all.

Final Thoughts

Keep active, keep the head up, be safe.

dpg

Joe O'Neill

Reporting on Irish boxing the past five years. Work has appeared on irish-boxing.com, Boxing News, the42.ie, and local and national media. Provide live ringside updates, occasional interviews, and special features on the future of Irish boxing. email: [email protected]