Ringside Round-up

22 March 2009 – By Cormac Campbell

Speckled throughout the capacity crowd of 9,000 at the O2 were countless big names from the world of sport and showbiz. Perhaps unsurprisingly the biggest cheer of the night was reserved for Irish footballing legend Paul McGrath. A prolonged chant of ooh ahh Paul McGrath, I say ooh ahh Paul McGrath did the heart good as the one time best defender in the world was announced to the masses. Members of Boyzone and Westlife did not fare so well as they were booed in the most tongue in cheek of fashions.

Brian Peters is a promoter known to break the mould somewhat in his productions and when he promised a show in addition to the boxing he wasnt lying. Drummers, performers and a classical music backdrop courtesy of Frank McNamara ensured that the event was indeed nothing like we have seen before.

Seated Ringside were English promoters Mick Hennessey and Frank Maloney. Peters has worked closely with Hennessey in recent times but his relationship with Maloney has always been portrayed as being somewhat strained. That said, a first defence for Dunne against Maloneys EBU champion Rendall Munroe (who was also in attendance) looks to be the fight the public will demand and one would expect the two to be talking serious numbers in the coming weeks.

More than 50 members of the Irish Boxing Supporters Club were in attendance at the fight having travelled by bus from Newry and Dundalk. This follows the success of Januarys National Boxing Awards. In the coming months the group, headed by Bobby Lavery, hope to organise regular events such as trips to fights, classic fight screenings and meet the fighters events, in addition to establishing branches in Belfast and Dublin.

This was the first boxing event to have been held in the O2 (Point) since its refurbishment and it is fair to say that it is fit for purpose. The seats at the back are quite far away from the ring, with one punter enquiring whether he had crossed the county boundary in to Meath. That said the big screens on site made things a little easier. Former British welterweight champion Neil Sinclair and irish-boxing.com columnist, Neil Sinclair said that the venue reminded him of the theatre at Madison Square Garden only on a much bigger scale.

The bill also featured amateur stars Paddy Barnes, Ray Moylette and Katie Taylor. Initially Kenny Egan was to have filled the chief support role. Taylor came in to the ring in the first live TV fight before Andy Lee. As such most of the fans were in their seats providing the Bray woman with a tremendous reception. Unfortunately Barnes and Moylette boxed early on the card in front of a paltry crowd a shame, particularly for Barnes who one feels doesnt receive the sort of recognition he deserves given his achievements.

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