The Neutral Corner

23 July 2008 – by Cormac Campbell

July has been a busy month for Irish boxing.

Three domestic bills, as well as cross channel bouts for Brian Magee and Scott Belshaw, have left most fighters and fans happy perhaps with the exception of Martin Rogan.

Rogie was to step up to top-of-the-bill status with a bout against Audley Harrison in Birmingham but, due to scheduling difficulties, the bill was postponed.

Having seen him working in the gym with Terry Dunstan, one could see how much the fight meant to him. Weeks before the contest he was in great shape, while his confidence was bubbling. After making such an investment both financially (he put his job as a cabbie on hold and brought Dunstan over from England) and physically, the postponement really was a hammer blow.

As far as I know, the fight will still go ahead, with an announcement expected in the coming weeks.

It was a good month for Andy Lee, who shook off the disappointment of defeat to Brian Vera with a tremendous victory over Willie Gibbs in his hometown. Whether he chases a rematch with Vera remains to be seen but news that Golden Boy Promotions are interested in signing him will undoubtedly do his confidence the world of good.

Another Irish boxer whose confidence will have grown is Bernard Dunne. At the Stadium on July 12 we saw Dunne regain his swagger round by round. He needs to fight Rendall Munroe and if that means going to England to do it, then that is what he should do. Who he doesnt need is Kiko Martinez, who. quite frankly. looked dreadful in Tallaght on Tommy Egans debut card.

Martinez may well hold a victory over Dunne but I honestly believe that he is going nowhere. Victory over the Spaniard will do little for Bernard except exorcise a few demons which on July 12’s evidence have already been shaken off.

Paul McCloskey may not have been at his slippery best in outpointing Nigel Wright in Limerick on July 19, but the victory will undoubtedly improve his chances of earning a crack at David Barnes’ British title. I think Paul will admit that he got drawn in to the wrong type of fight but will be happy that his chin, guts and stamina are now beyond reproach.

July also saw Tommy Egan, as I earlier mention, enter the professional arena and experience first hand just how difficult and fickle it can be.

A poor crowd turned out to watch Jamie Moore KO Ciaran Healy, although a healthy audience is believed to have tuned in to TV3s maiden production. Egan would have been left with much food for thought after the card and will simply have to do things better if he is to have a long-term future in promoting.

The card itself was fine but professional boxing is also about razzmatazz, and without a proper lighting rig at the venue, you are going to have a difficult time in producing the appropriate atmosphere.

As a venue, the Basketball Arena would be perfect if only it were more central, and the reality is that whilst an established star like Bernard Dunne could encourage people to jump in the car and travel to Tallaght, an outsider like Jamie Moore will not do this.

Word is that August will be quiet for the pros with all eyes on our five boys in Beijing with plenty of action planned for September.

We will just have to wait and see if any of our Olympians decide to ditch their headguards and vests after Beijing.

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