28 April 2010 – By Leonard Gunning
I love Irish title fights and thank God we have had the chance to enjoy more and more of them over past few years due in no small part to the efforts of Messrs Brian Peters, Tomas Rohan and Co. and now fight fans have the chance to see one of the most evenly matched Irish title fights in many years when Mayos Michael Sweeney 8-1-1 (5KO) and Dublins Ian Tims 7-0 (2KO) lock horns for the vacant Irish Cruiserweight title as they provide the main supporting contest on the undercard of the Andy Lee-Mamadou Thiam bout in Limerick on May 15.
Although tussles for domestic honours are without doubt thoroughly exciting spectacles to observe, some ingrates argue that they are in danger of becoming somewhat of a luv-in with participants indulging in bouts of gratuitous mutual backslapping rarely seen outside of a Fianna Fil Ard Fheis.
Sure Jason McKay and Andy Lee crossed swords over the question of the Limerick boxers heart and Michael Gomez brought his own brand of vinegar and thunder home in the build up to his fight with Peter McDonagh. But in reality it is not since Darren Corbett and Noel Magee tangoed in 1997 at the Ulster Hall for the last meeting for the Irish Cruiserweight title that to fighters displayed such public delight at the notion of beating their foe for a domestic honour as Sweeney and Tims have done in the run up to their much anticipated clash.
From its very conception Sweeney-Tims never going to any ordinary fight. Journalist Paddy Cronan got the ball rolling when he posted a message on social networking website Facebook asking if anyone would be interested in seeing Sweeney and Tims duke it out in 2010. Within 15 minutes the pair had cordially agreed to the proposal and were seeking a promoter to stage the contest. But despite the initial encounter going so smoothly it all then got a little sour after it was suggested that Sweeney couldnt sell tickets or make the weight.
Relations went rapidly further downhill when Tims was quoted in a press release stating that the Mayo man, who carries the moniker The Storm was more a storm in a tea cup as opposed to a severely disturbed state of astronomical atmosphere and then went on to suggest that Sweeney may not even turn up for the fight.
Enter the Storm who was in no mood to mince his words as he talked to irish-boxing.com from his Manchester training camp as he predicted a knockout victory. I dont know what he is talking about; he is acting the clown alright. He is probably hoping I dont turn up but its stupid of him to think I wont be there and I dont know what vibes he is getting because I will never back down from anyone.
“To say I wont turn up is a bit stupid and he could have come up with something else better than that because he sounds daft. That talk would only make me want it more and I dont like to blow hot air but this fight isnt going past five rounds, thats not being a big head but I am just going to get in there and tear into him blasted Sweeney following a tough workout with Steve Egan.
The Ballinrobe native went on to explain I know Ian and I sparred with him before and got the better of him but of course I am not just going to go on that or get too excited about it, what I am going to do what I am told by Steve (Egan) and focus on the fight.
Sweeney went on to say I believe I will come out on top of the fight and should be favourite going into it. Preparation is going well, I have been running hard, up early in the morning at half five, running by six, then in the gym at half nine and doing some strength work and then boxing training at three. It is a hard routine but once my head is into it everything else will fit into place.
A determined Sweeney then blasted another shot across the unbeaten Dubliner’s bow claiming I have the boxing skill and the ability and my mind is on it, I was the same way going into the Jamie Power fight. That was another stupid statement from Tims saying I got Power with a lucky punch, well you might catch I guy with one lucky punch but if you watch the DVD you will see a lot more than one punch landing.
If Tims thinking he is winding me up then he is going the wrong way about it because he is only motivating me more and in truth he doesnt bother me because it isnt the first time someone has been talking about me. But he seems to have gone a bit quiet now and hey, he might be the one that doesnt turn up to the fight.
Sweeney looked in fine shape as he toyed with a heavy bag in the renowned south Manchester gym which Tyson Fury called home for so many years and explained what motivated him to move his training to the Wythenshawe base. There is a time in your career when you have to move to the next level and I have been at home for a while training back in Ireland for my first few pro fights but there are great friends of mine in Manchester called Kevin and Frank Barrett and they invited me over to stay with them and explore the gyms in Manchester and promised that there was plenty of sparring and that I would get top class training over here.
So I said grand and came over and I met Steve Egan and I like the way he works and puts me through the paces. There is no Mr Nice Guy with him in the gym you go to work and thats it and then maybe a hand shake after the session and thats great. By coming to Manchester to train I am away from my family which is tough but it gets my mind right for the fight.
Sweeney who is coming off the back of a stoppage defeat in Mexico also explained that he is eager to be part of a great night of boxing in Limerick and is encouraged by such a healthy bill as he explained the card is stacked, Brian (Peters) runs good shows and maybe the one in Limerick last time round might by his own admission not have been his best this one certainly is a belter, you have Paddy McDonagh with only two fights taking on an experienced guy like Ciaran Healy, Power and Waldron will go toe to toe I know what they are like, myself and Tims are two good fighters, the name Andy Lee speaks for itself, the Cubans and now even Katie Taylor. It must be a sell out and I have a couple of hundred people going myself from Mayo and Sligo.
Before he left Sweeney was keen to leave any Irish fighter from the Super middleweight to Cruiserweight division in no doubt of his intentions: I am just going to prove that I can beat Ian Tims and then come back down to Light heavyweight and take that title and lets see what happens from there.