14 January 2011 – Kevin Byrne
Dean Byrne has revealed the reason why he won’t be fighting at Citywest on January 30 – he didn’t fancy signing full-time with Dolphil Promotions.
The Dublin-based business wanted to make Byrne, whose history with co-promoter and coach Phil Sutcliffe goes back to when the boxer was a boy, their marquee name along with Willie Casey as they go about building their venture.
But Byrne, to their disappointment, resisted the four-year deal he was offered. And that means, first and foremost, he will not lace up the gloves for the 15th time as a professional when Dolphil stage a show in Saggart at the end of the month.
Byrne said: “I won’t be fighting on the 30th of January – Dolphil told me I couldn’t fight on their card unless I signed with them.
“I couldn’t do that unfortunately. Dolphil wanted me to sign for four years, but on their terms. I asked them to meet me halfway but they wouldn’t.”
Sutcliffe sees the situation a little differently, as one might guess. He and business partner Don O’Leary feel Byrne is misguided in rejecting their offer.
The pair reckon Byrne has ideas above his station and is overlooking a great opportunity to establish himself on these shores under their banner.
Sutcliffe said: “Look, he’s had no work until he came to us and we gave him his last two fights.
“We were prepared to get him an Irish title fight in March on the Big Bang card on March 19. Most of our other professionals would give their right leg to get on that show. I’m very disappointed as I’ve been looking after him since he was a baby. But maybe he’s not quite the big name he thinks he is.
“We offered a good deal – as good as any of our other fighters, but Deano wasn’t willing to put the trust in us. And the fear is that we spend time and effort in building him up – then some other promoter comes in and takes him off us? No chance. I’m not willing to do that.”
O’Leary agreed and said: “We need a commitment from Dean to put him on our shows.
“Phil thinks he could be a world champ and we could realistically get him there. But it’s the same rule for one as it is for all – and he hasn’t signed.”
Used to the bright lights in the USA at Freddie Roach’s Wild Card gym and sparring alongside Manny Pacquiao and Amir Khan, Byrne now has plans to head to the UK for possible talks with Frank Warren or any other promoter who is willing to sit down and thrash out a deal.
He hopes a TV deal will aid his career, or, as has been quoted before, ‘make him the new Bernard Dunne’. The broadcast angle is something Dolphil cannot offer as yet.
The 26-year-old added: “Listen, I’d love to fight in Ireland but I couldn’t take the deal they offered.
“I’ve been with Phil since I was 10 and I’ve done a lot for him and the club (Crumlin BC). I asked to be put on the show as a favour – but to do that I had to sign for them for four years.
“Fair enough to them, but they haven’t even got TV yet and that’s where I want to be.”
Byrne became known when he won the Australian title on the road in just his fifth fight. But, more recently, his name has been bandied about in connection with WBA world light-welterweight champion Khan.
The Dubliner was his main sparring partner during his preparations for the December victory over Marcos Maidana – and Byrne reckons he more than held his own. This assertion only boosts his confidence – and his claim that he should be on TV challenging for major titles, now.
Byrne said: “I want to be signing with the big boys, Frank Warren or Golden Boy. During talks Dolphil said ‘look where we got Willie Casey, Anthony Fitzgerald’ but no disrespect to them, those boys don’t have half the talent I have.”
Yet Sutcliffe hit back: “He had a great opportunity here to sign and no one is rushing in for him at the minute. If you want to look at Fitzy, he’s only had two years as a pro and he’s already a bigger name here. He could end up wasting his time going around England now looking for someone to give him work. But we were prepared to do that, if only he was willing to work for it in turn.
“The door will never be closed here but he’s 26 now and the clock is ticking.”
Still, Byrne remains hopeful that a cross-channel promoter will take note of his talents and step in.
He concluded: “I’m sparring the very best every day and I know what it takes to be a champion.
“I was Amir Khan’s main sparring partner in the Wild Card gym for Marcos Maidana.
“And every day, he’d have all the coaches, strength and conditioning, tactics in his corner – but I still got the better of him at times. They were great spars. I want to get in the mix for a European title, world titles, and with the right promoter I think I can do that. Whether that’s at light-welterweight or full welterweight, I don’t care, I sparred with everybody.
“But I’ve been frustrated – I was inactive for most of 2009 and I just want to get moving. I want to go for the Irish title – I’m number one in line for it because Fankie Gavin’s going to relinquish it. Hopefully in 2011 I can make something happen.”