14 February 2010 – By Steve Wellings
Andy Murray underlined his status as one of Irelands rising stars on Saturday February 13 when the Cavan man pounded Oisin Fagan into submission inside five intense rounds of action, to retain his Irish lightweight title at Dublin’s National Stadium.
When referee David Irving halted the contest, at 2.45 of the session, it may have initially appeared a touch premature. However, in hindsight, the 36-year-old challenger had two badly swollen eyes and appeared to be swallowing blood as he bravely spat out defiance, with Murray (9st 8llb 6oz) firmly in the ascendancy.
It had started well for Dubliner Fagan (9st 9llb) who found a home for his right hand in the opening round as Murray held his left hand low and unwisely met Fagan head on in the centre ring. The height difference was noticeable at the referees instructions and Murray would have been better served popping the jab and offering some movement to offset his opponent.
By the second round the 27-year-old champion was using those advantages as Fagan began reaching and Murray scored with repeated right uppercuts. Fagan looked weary by the third but still landed his right over the top and to the body, although the crispness was lacking and a nosebleed did not help matters. The Dubliner continued soaking up quality punches in the fourth and later stated that his game plan was to keep rolling forward and take over late into the contest.
He never got the chance to carry this through and as his face reddened, Murrays jabs and right hands landed with greater frequency. Irvings intervention was on compassionate grounds but his post-fight explanations did little to quell the discontent from both Fagan and his chief corner man Phil Sutcliffe. Perhaps if Irving had stepped in when the punches were flowing, rather than waiting for a lull in the action, it would have been easier for Team Fagan to comprehend. Most at ringside were in agreement that the stoppage was correct. For the record I had Murray leading by two points when the ending arrived.
I definitely felt a lot better than before the Alex Bone fight, Murray said at the post-fight press conference when asked about his collarbone injury.
There was no pain in sparring for this fight and my tactics worked on the night so Im delighted with the performance.
My movement gave him problems and I had worked beforehand on stepping off to one side and giving him angles. I took a few shots early but once I switched on and realised he wasnt going to hurt me, I took over. I brought in the hooks and uppercuts and used my distance to jab him off.
The stronger the opponent, the better you will see me perform. There are even bigger performances in me yet.
Promoter Brian Peters agreed, Hes not three-time National champion for nothing. I still believe that we havent seen the best of Andrew Murray. But remember, Oisin Fagan pushed both Paul Spadafora and Verquan Kimbrough mightily close; hes a handful for anybody.
Fagan did not attend the post-fight press conference, opting instead to circulate a text to members of the press cataloguing his disappointment.
Belfasts Jamie Conlan opened proceedings at the National Stadium with an impressive stoppage over Bulgarias Itsko Veselinov. Veselinov doesnt win too many (actually one out of seven so far) but knew how to use the ring and gave a good account of himself for the five rounds it lasted.
Flyweight Conlan (8st 2 1/2llb) found out at short notice that the bout had been increased to an eight-rounder, which now makes Jamie eligible for the Irish title and as trainer John Breen stated afterwards, pushes him forward in contention for British or Commonwealth honours. Not bad considering this was only Conlans second pro outing, but lighter weight fighters do tend to get moved quicker due to the lack of options.
Heads clashed early and I was curious as to whether Conlan had been cut again (as he was in his debut fight) but it turned out to be a blotch around the eyes. Itsko (8st 4 1/2llb) was sturdy and stood up to the overhand rights and thumping body shots until the accumulation took its toll in the fifth and the Bulgarian tasted the canvas following a combination of blows. He rose to fight on ref David Irving ignored the corners offer of the towel- but was wilting in the corner when the third man waved it off at 0.32.
Alexei Acosta was eager to live-up to his reputation as a big puncher but neglected his boxing skills as a result, before opponent Felix Machado retired himself at the start of the sixth round. Upon closer inspection the former IBF super-flyweight holder had a badly cut right eye, although it was unclear as to whether a punch or head clash had caused the damage.
Acosta (8st 10 1/2llb) had looked relaxed for the first three rounds, circling the ring and firing away to head and body as southpaw Machado (8st 10llb 6oz) flicked out lethargic ripostes. When under sustained pressure Felix used his veteran nous to throw back at the right times to prevent referee Emile Tiedt from diving in. Most of Machados counters, however, were dont hit me punches.
Alexei appeared tired, frustrated or both by the fourth round and Machado had a fruitful spell, landing some telling blows for the first time.
The Venezuelan visitor was sporting an interesting pair of white gym socks with Ireland emblazoned across them in an attempt to garner local support. Following a productive fifth Felix suddenly walked over to Acostas corner, shrugging his shoulders, and offering resignation. Acosta accepted and embraced, but the Cuban, who is still only 21-years-old and by no means the finished product, needs to forget so much about power and use his talent to outbox opponents.
Limericks Willie Casey could be a fighter to keep an eye on. The fiery featherweight shows a cool composure that belies his novice status (now 4-0). Casey (9st 2llb) made short work of Venezuelan Fernando Guevara, dispatching the overmatched 36-year-old in 2.43 of the opening round.
Guevara (9st 9llb) was coming off the back of a 20-fight losing streak but southpaw Willie stayed focused, used his jab and threw spiteful straight lefts and right hooks to bombard the Spain-based veteran. It wasnt long before the away mans trainer climbed on to the ring apron to offer his white towel to referee Paul McCullagh, who dutifully accepted.
Stay tuned to irish-boxing.com this week for all the reports and reaction from the National Stadium card.