07 October 2009 – By Padraig Hoare
Cast your mind back to January 30, 2009. It doesn’t particularly strike you as significant, does it? For most of the 4.15 million people that live on this island, it was just another cold Friday night in the throes of winter.
For the 800 or so packed into the CityWest Hotel on Dublin’s outskirts, it was a night they will never forget.
Transfixed by the beautiful violence on display, we watched Dublin gladiators Robert Long and Anthony Fitzgerald go to the deepest recesses of their souls. This was the best of middleweight boxing, and it was in the middle of an Irish ring.
For six three-minute rounds, there was barely a lull in the action. And action it was. It was stark and it was grievous. It was bloody and it was brutal. It was the sort of orgy of violence that makes you loathe the sport as much as you love it. In other words, it was a fight fan’s dream.
What made the fight even more special was the ravenous crowd throughout the small hall. Anthony Fitzgeralds supporters made it sound like there were thousands in attendance from Crumlin Boxing Club and beyond, but Robbie Long was not outdone in the numbers stakes either, with the rabid Tallaght crowd roaring on every swing of his arm.
Robbie Long may have had his bloodied gloves raised in victory that night, but Anthony Fitzgerald was no loser. We applauded and cheered until our hands ached and our voices cracked. We may never see the likes of it again, we lamented.
The rematch of 2009 is on. Robbie Long (4-0, 1 KO) and Anthony Fitzgerald (4-2, 2 KO) will lace up the gloves again, this time at the spiritual home of Irish boxing, the National Stadium, on Saturday, October 24.
Promoters Don O’Leary and Phil Sutcliffe of DolPhil Promotions are hoping to recapture the magic, and even exceed it. O’Leary told irish-boxing.com that DolPhil had taken the decision to lower the prices to get as many fans in as possible to see the best of the next generation of Irish fighters.
With tickets starting at 10, it is a deliberate attempt to wow the crowds to the National Stadium. OLeary is hopwing that it is a gamble that will pay off handsomely in the long run.
“It means we wont be making any money, thats for sure. But Phil Sutcliffe does this for the love of Irish boxing and I have a successful business (the Mill Inn in Ballyvourney, Co Cork). Were not in it for the money.
“That said, we cant keep putting on cards at great expense if people are not prepared to come. Weve had complaints that our cards are stacked with too many journeymen. But we cant bring the big guns over because they demand big money. Big money means big crowd. Its a vicious circle.”
Don said the two men have come up with a formula that keeps everyone happy. Keep ticket prices low, and generate fights of genuine Irish interest.
“The most expensive ticket is 50, while a family ticket costs 55. That entitles two adults to bring two children under 16 to the National Stadium. The gallery seats are 20 while children under 16 get in for 10. That is great value to see the next generation of Irish stars. It will also help to keep producing better and bigger shows as we move forward.”
See www.dolphilboxing.com for further details and for ticket information.