Belfast talent putting faith in trainer to take IBF World title
SAN DIEGO- (June 5, 2017)-Ryan Burnett believes he has the perfect man in his corner in Adam Booth to get the gameplan right to take the IBF World Bantamweight title from Lee Haskins when they clash at the SSE Arena Belfast on Saturday June 10, live on AWE–A Wealth of Entertainment at 3 PM ET / 12 PM ET
Burnett faces the Bristol ace in his first World title shot and it’s a welcome return to his hometown after over three and a half years on the road.
Burnett’s last outing in Belfast in November 2014 was his first fight with Booth and the pair have moved seamlessly to 16-0 and on the brink of World glory as their partnership has blossomed in Booth’s Surrey gym.
Booth has been in the corner for many World title fights with David Haye and Burnett feels that having those expertise behind him can be the difference.
“Adam believes I am ready for it and he’s a man who has been there and done it,” said Burnett. “Adam knows how to put a game plan together to beat a southpaw, and I have every faith in Adam. If I am calm, relaxed and I deliver what Adam tells me to do on the night, I’ll win that belt.
“I’m always learning with every fight and every day in the gym with Adam. People were saying a year ago that I was ready for a World title shot so that must mean I am even better placed for it now. Adam makes the decisions of what the right move is for me.
“Adam has given me intelligence on what I actually have to do. All the skills are there, but he’s teaching me how to control it. That’s what we work on every day – understanding what you have to do and how you have to do it.
“I needed to sit back, peel away the layers and understand what I am doing. Adam’s work speaks for itself. He’s been in the sport for a long time and he’s a well-respected coach. I’ve come to the gym willing to listen and learn because I know that Adam has so much knowledge to give, so if Adam says jump, I say how high.”
Burnett challenges Haskins on a huge night of action in Belfast where Paul Hyland Jr faces Adam Dingsdale for his first pro title, with the IBF European Lightweight strap on the line.
An exciting undercard features a the Cruiserweight debut of Mike Perez, Ian Tims and Luke Watkins meeting for the Irish Cruiserweight title and local favourites James Tennyson, Paddy Gallagher, Matthew Wilton, Feargal McCrory and Tyrone McCullagh.
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Interview by Gianluca Di Caro.
Photo: Team Gallagher
The subject of this interview is Dayle Gallagher, who is proving to be one of the most exciting young prospects to emerge on the Merseyside boxing scene over the past few years.
On Friday March 3rd Dayle is set to compete in his toughest fight to date, a six rounder at the Hanger 34 Club in Liverpool, against Belfast’s Michael Kelly, a proven Championship campaigner, who in the past year or so has fought France’s Mohamed Larabi for the WBF International title and more recently Scotland’s Lee McAllister for the WBF Inter-Continental belt, as well as competed on huge televised events in Russia and Sweden.
Unbeaten in four outings to date, two by early stoppages, against Alekseis Nikitenko, in May 2015 and Jak Johnson in December 2016, and two by solid points decision, Marty Kayes in April 2016 and Phil Townley in June the same year, Dayle has already caught the eye of some of the biggest names in the sport, including two time World Champion Amir Khan.
In fact courtesy of Mr Khan and his team, Dayle firmly earned his place in the History books of the sport, as the very first winner of a Professional Boxing contest in Pakistan, following his excellent win over Belfast’s Phil Townley back in June last year.
More on that later, as right now I think its time to get on with the interview.
Thank you for talking with me today Dayle, whilst obviously this interview is regarding your professional career, especially the upcoming fight against Michael Kelly on March 3rd, I would like to start the interview off with you telling the readers a little about your non-professional boxing, especially your amateur career, which I have understand started out with a victory over one of the top guys in the division at that time.
I started boxing at the age of 14, after training for over a year I had a few inter-club events before having my first amateur bout which was on short notice to represent Liverpool my home city, which was against the Welsh number one at the time in his home city Wrexham.
I always remember my coach saying no one wants to fight this lad so go knock him out, and in the second round after putting him down twice already the referee had no choice to stop it.
I was told by numerous of people I had a bright future in the sport but my focus at the time was to become a professional football player which ended in a real bad injury and after 18 months of physio and rehabilitation on my injury.
I finally got back into boxing for fitness and immediately fell back in love with the sport, after just a few months of training I took a white-collar fight in Newcastle.
After winning that I got loads of good feedback and realised I need to start taking this serious and see how far I can go in the sport, I won Northern area, British and European titles on the unlicensed scene then realised I need to turn to the professional side of the game.
Your pro career got off to a flying start, with a stoppage victory over Latvian Aleksejs Nikitenko, firstly how did it feel boxing in the professional ranks for the first time and secondly can you give your view of the fight please?
Even though I had been in the ring plenty of times before, my professional debut had me more nervous then any other fight, but the feeling couldn’t of been better.
The fight didn’t last long about 1 minute I think before the referee had to interfere and call a halt to the fight which led to my first win in the professional ranks and is a day I will never forget.
It was almost a year before you were back in the ring, against Marty Kayes back in April last year, but even with such a long time between fights you were in top form, beating Marty on points. How did you manage to keep motivated during this time and again please give the readers your view of the fight?
It was very hard because I was going through a lot of complications with my promoter at the time and couldn’t fight and I thought I might never fight again, but after a long period out, my brother helped me and got me a fight.
I knew a lot about Marty and knew it wouldn’t be easy knowing how experienced he was, but I wanted to show everyone that even with all this time out how good I can be and got the win and felt like I’d never had time out of the ring.
Your next fight, against Phil Townley, came just a few months later and what’s more was overseas on an historic event, the first Pro Boxing event ever to take place in Pakistan. Can you please tell the readers firstly how this came about and also tell the readers not just about the fight but also the whole experience?
I didn’t really believe it was true when I first found out about Pakistan. I had just come back from my holiday and next minute am on the phone to Amir Khan’s uncle about a possible fight in Pakistan.
Even though I knew I wasn’t at my fittest or at my preferred weight I couldn’t miss out on the opportunity so I stepped up two weight classes just for the opportunity.
Within a couple of hours of the fight getting offered to me I was in Bolton at the Amir Khan Academy filling out all my paper work and my visa and literally three days later was on a plane going to fight in Pakistan.
On arriving in Pakistan I was treated like royalty, my bags where collected and carried for me. I was greeted by the Pakistan Army and Police and escorted to my hotel.
I could never thank the people enough from Pakistan on how they made my time there so welcome, it’s a great country with great people even when I fought they where screaming my name, so much so that I thought I was back in Liverpool with a home crowd.
It was one of my most amazing experiences of my life and one that I will have for the rest of my life as I made history as the very first professional boxer to fight and win on Pakistan soil.
Your fourth fight, against Jak Johnson back in December and on home turf once more, was both dramatic and I would expect anti-climatic for you. I was there so know all that occurred but could you enlighten the readers about the dramas that unfolded that night from your view please?
If you’ve seen the whole fight it looks like I wasn’t too happy at the end but that’s because am a fighter and all I want to do is fight.
I trained so hard and felt in the best shape of my life so when the fight was over In 30 seconds it annoyed me but that’s just something I have to deal with its boxing and fights can be over with one shot.
After watching it back I was happy with my performance and I’m blessed with punching power that can pop someone’s shoulder out of its socket with one shot.
On the 3rd March you’ll be in action once more at the Hanger 34 in Liverpool, where you are due to face Ireland’s Michael Kelly. Do you know much about Michael and his fighting style and also how do you see this fight panning out?
I know about the people he’s fought and what he’s achieved I know it will be a tough fight but that’s why my team and me asked for the fight.
I don’t watch my opponents on old fights because they could turn up an box a completely different fight so I like to figure them out when am in there.
I think it will be an entertaining fight for people to watch, but I see it ending with a knockout, if I hit anybody at welterweight with one of my power shots in eight-ounce gloves I will be shocked to see anybody still standing there in front of me.
So out of the fights you’ve had to date, whether pro or not, which has been your favourite and why?
My favourite has to be Pakistan making history and challenging myself, it was a big risk stepping up two weight divisions but I like a challenge and this is why I’m in this fight game, and also boxing in front of two time World Champion Amir Khan and getting great feedback from him, you can’t ask for anything better than that.
How would you describe your fighting style?
My fighting style I believe is different to the average British style boxer which I think makes me stand out more, I’m a counter fighter with power, I’m a southpaw and I know I can be a nightmare for any boxer out there on the boxing circuit.
Should you be successful on the 3rd March, you will be unbeaten in five, whilst perhaps it’s still a bit early to be thinking of Championship accolades, I’m sure that you must have been thinking about opportunities like that already, as such could you please outline your future plans for the readers.
I’m in the sport to win titles, it’s a dream of mine that I know I can achieve and when the opportunity comes I will take it.
I will keep climbing the ladder winning fights and when my team think the time is right, I will get my title shot and I will become Champion.
I’m sure you must have been an avid watcher of pro boxing even as a youngster, as such my next question is which fighters, past or present, have had the most influence on you and your career?
Growing up from a young age I used to watch videos of Roy Jones Jr, I love his cockiness and confidence.
I always wanted to be an entertainer and give people the feeling I had when watching him.
My favourite fighters that I like to watch a lot of now is Floyd Mayweather, Adrian Broner, Chris Eubank Jr and Errol Spence Jr, these are the type of fighters I like to take a lot from and try to make into my own style.
Moving away from the fights etc., who are the main people that make up Team Gallagher?
Even though I’m the one who gets in there to fight I couldn’t do it without my team, from my brother Kyle who prepares me for every fight, to all my teammates at engine room.
It’s not just my team though; my sponsors also help me to get ready for fight night, Goodness Grill, who prepares my food, which help me with my diets. Spartan Dynamic who train me for my strength and conditioning and get me in great shape and make me feel stronger than ever.
James Harris who helps me with everything behind the scenes like interviews.
My friends my family and my girlfriend these all help me behind the scenes when I’m moody from weight cutting and preparing for fight night.
But the most important people on my team are the people who believe in my dream and buy tickets off me for my fights, because what a lot of people don’t realise without ticket sales fights can’t happen and I will always be thankful to every last person who buys a ticket from me!
Where do you train and what is your training schedule?
I train in Engine Room Boxing Club, Sports Direct Fitness and Spartan Dynamic, my normal routine for fight night is 6am I wake up have a banana then straight to Sports Direct Fitness for my running.
I like to get between 4-6 miles in every morning then I will do a bit of bag work and get a sauna, then I will go home and rest then at 10:30am depending on which day Monday, Wednesday, Friday I will be at Engine Room until at least Midday working on my boxing.
Tuesday and Thursday I will be at Spartan Dynamic until Midday working on my strength and conditioning, then I will go and pick up freshly prepared meals from Goodness Grill and then have work from 2:30pm until 9:30pm.
It’s a hard routine to maintain but for my dream it’s all worth it.
What would you say your favourite part of training is?
I don’t really have a favourite part of training; my favourite part is probably getting told I’m finished because it’s really hard work.
It’s an addiction training that I couldn’t go without, but if I had to choose one thing it would probably be sparring. It’s the closest thing to fighting and there’s nothing better than landing devastating punches on opponents.
Outside boxing, what is your favourite sport?
Outside of boxing my favourite sport is football, I love to watch my team Everton but any game in general I will just watch for entertainment
Besides sport how else do you relax outside boxing?
Boxing is constantly on my brain when I have spare time I watch boxing videos or talk about it to people who don’t really care but it’s in my blood and I just can’t help it
These days Social Media is very much an important tool for professional sports people; do you utilize Social Media to engage with your fans?
I find social media is very important these days for professional athletes and I always interact with fans, because anybody who takes time to ask me anything about my career deserves a reply, I’m not a big name in the sport yet so to have people asking me questions about my boxing really means a lot to me.
Finally is there anything you want to say to your fans?
Thank you to everyone who follows my career and believes in me it won’t be long until I’m at the top, thank you.
Dayle Gallagher versus Michael Kelly headlines the Kyle Gallagher Fight Club Promotions event at Hanger 34 in Liverpool on Friday 3rdMarch 2017, which will be broadcast on BOOM TV. Tickets are available from boxers competing or call Fight Club Ticket Line 07711 098025.
Liam McGeary (12-1) defeated Brett McDermott (7-5) via TKO at 1:06 of round two
James Gallagher (6-0) defeated Kirill Medvedovsky (7-4) via submission (rear-naked choke) at 2:53 of round one
Iony Razafiarison (2-1) defeated Sinead Kavanagh (4-1) via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-26, 30-25)
Alex Lohore (11-1) defeated Colin Fletcher (13-8) via submission (rear-naked choke) at 2:42 of round two
Shay Walsh (15-4) defeated James McErleane (6-4) via unanimous decision (29-28 x3)
SBG STARS JAMES GALLAGHER AND SINEAD KAVANAGH BOTH SET WITH MATCHUPS
HOLLYWOOD, CALIF. (January 24, 2017) – Bellator & BAMMA combine forces once more to bring Belfast a show of Titanic proportions as they present their second co-promoted event on Friday February 24th 2017 from the SSE Arena, Belfast. With huge main events and supporting undercards, it will be a historic and groundbreaking night to remember for MMA fans of Belfast and around the world.
“We had a great time working with David and the BAMMA team in December for what was an incredibly successful Bellator debut in Dublin. We’re looking forward to heading north with them to Belfast for another amazing co-promotion that will feature some of the world’s best fighters.” – Scott Coker, Bellator CEO
“The addition of Bellator to the show in Dublin was a great experience and the perfect end to a year of great events for BAMMA. We are therefore very pleased to welcome them back as part of the package for what will be an exciting night of MMA for the fans in Belfast in February” – David Green, BAMMA CEO
With both fight cards being announced over the coming weeks, further information on the headline bouts can be found below.
Bellator 173: McGeary vs. Fields
Hailing from Andover, England, the 34-year-old Liam McGeary (11-1) will make the short trek up to Northern Ireland’s capital for the first time in his career, where he will once again compete in a main event. The former Bellator MMA light heavyweight champion will enter the cage for the 10thtime under the Scott Coker-led promotion, where he has posted an 8-1 record with seven finishes. Following an 11-fight winning streak to begin his professional career, McGeary finally experienced the sour taste of defeat, when Phil Davis wrestled the title away from him at Bellator 163. McGeary has consistently proven to be one of the most dangerous strikers and submission artists in the 205-pound division, finishing his victim in 10 of 11 career wins, including eight in the opening frame. Much like the “RMS Titanic,” which was built in Belfast, McGeary hopes to sink Fields when the two take center stage inside The SSE Arena on February 24.
A native of Dublin, Ireland, Chris Fields (11-7-1) will also have a short trek to Belfast when he enters the cage on February 24. “The Housewives’ Choice” will be making his Bellator MMA debut, following nine years under the direction of local promotions, including three appearances under European powerhouse BAMMA. After competing at middleweight in 2015, the 33-year-old Fields returned to the light heavyweight division, recording a first round submission victory over Dan Konecke at BAMMA 24. Fields has tallied finishes in each of his 11 career wins, making him one of the most menacing opponents for anyone standing in his way. Now the SBG Ireland product will look to make a splash in his first fight with Bellator MMA, as he prepares for the former division kingpin.
Hailing from nearby Straban, Ireland, the 20-year-old James Gallagher (5-0) is one of the brightest stars in all “The Emerald Island.” At age 15, “The Strabanimal” moved away from home to join Coach John Kavanagh at Straight Blast Gym (SBG), where he now trains alongside the best fighters in the country including Connor McGregor. Having made his Bellator debut in London this past July in London, Gallagher followed up in December with a submission victory over Anthony Taylor in front of a raucous home crowd at the 3Arena in Dublin. Gallagher now takes on Kirill Medvedovsky (7-3) in the co-main event of the evening.
Another top prospect from the famed SBG powerhouse, Sinead Kavanagh (4-0) returns to the Bellator cage against 32-year-old Parisian Iony Razafiarison (1-1, 1 NC) in a 140-pound catchweight matchup “KO” Kavanagh, who fights out of nearby Dublin Ireland will no doubt be looking to collect her third knockout on February 24.
BAMMA 28: Parke Vs. Redmond
“Stormin” Norman Parke (22-5-1) from Bushmills, Antrim is no stranger to BAMMA events, as he has been spotted numerous times cornering team mates as part of the Next Gen Northern Ireland fight team. One of Europe’s most sought after free agents prior to putting pen to paper with BAMMA, Parke now goes in pursuit of the coveted BAMMA World Lightweight title.
Paul “Redser” Redmond (11-6) landed a victorious homecoming of his own at BAMMA 26, as Redser took out the double tough Chris “The Menace” Stringer to claim the adulation of his hometown support. Redmond now steps into one of the biggest fights ever announced in Ireland, as he takes on Parke in this hugely anticipated match up.
For further information check out the Bellator and BAMMA websites and follow them on all social media channels.
Updated Bellator 173: McGeary vs. Fields Main Card:
Light Heavyweight Main Event: Liam McGeary (11-1) vs. Chris Fields (11-7-1)
Featherweight Feature: James Gallagher (5-0) vs. Kirill Medvedovsky (7-3)
140 lb. Catchweight Feature: Sinead Kavanagh (4-0) vs. Iony Razafiarison (1-1, 1 NC)
Updated BAMMA 28: Parke vs. Redmond Fight Card
‘Stormin’ Norman Parke (22-5-1) Vs. Paul ‘Redser’ Redmond (11-5) – Lightweight Feature Bout
Andy ‘Taz’ Young (10-8) Vs. Dominique ‘The Black Panther’ Wooding (3-0) – Interim BAMMA World Flyweight TItle
Ronnie ‘Iron’ Mann (25-8-1) Vs. Damien ‘Frankenstien’ Lapilus (14-7-1) – BAMMA World Featherweight Title
Rhys ‘Skeletor’ McKee (c) (5-0) Vs. ‘Magic Myles Price (9-6-0) – Lonsdale Lightweight Title
Colin ‘The Freakshow’ Fletcher (13-7) Vs. Alex ‘Da Kid’ Lohore (10-1) – Welterweight Bout
John ‘Johnny Jitzu’ Redmond (7-12) Vs. ‘The Nigerian Diamond’ Pelu Adetola (3-5) – Middleweight Bout
Steve Owens (2-0) Vs. Jai Herbert (4-1) – Lightweight Bout
Niall Smith (4-4) Vs. Daniel Rutkowski (1-2) – Featherweight Bout
Blaine O’Driscoll (3-1) Vs. Ross McCorriston (0-0) – Bantamweight Bout
Andrew Murphy (0-1) Vs. Stephen Kilifin (2-1) – Featherweight Bout
Jonathan Reid (0-0) Vs. Daniel Olejniczak (0-0) – Welterweight Bout
Glenn ‘The Beast’ Irvine ((0-1) Vs. Keith ‘The Butcher’ McCabe (2-3) – 80kg Catchweight Bout
SANTA MONICA, CALIF. (January 10, 2017) – A light heavyweight bout pitting former 205-pound world champion Liam McGeary (11-1) against Chris Fields (11-7-1) will serve as the main event of “Bellator 173: McGeary vs. Fields,” which will take place inside The SSE Arena in Belfast, Northern Ireland on Friday, February 24.
“Bellator 173: McGeary vs. Fields” airs on Spike at 9 p.m. ET/8 p.m. CT. Tickets for the event start at just £35 and can be purchased at Ticketmaster.ie, SSEArenaBelfast.com, or the SSE Arena box office.
Hailing from Andover, England, the 34-year-old McGeary will make the short trek up to Northern Ireland’s capital for the first time in his career, where he will once again compete in a main event. The former Bellator MMA light heavyweight champion will enter the cage for the 10th time under the Scott Coker-led promotion, where he has posted an 8-1 record with seven finishes. Following an 11-fight winning streak to begin his professional career, McGeary finally experienced the sour taste of defeat, when Phil Davis wrestled the title away from him at ‘Bellator 163.’ McGeary has consistently proven to be one of the most dangerous strikers and submission artists in the 205-pound division, finishing his victim in 10 of 11 career wins, including eight in the opening frame. Much like the “RMS Titanic,” which was built in Belfast, McGeary hopes to sink Fields when the two take center stage inside The SSE Arena on February 24.
A native of Dublin, Ireland, Fields will also have a short trek to Belfast when he enters the cage on February 24. “The Housewives’ Choice” will be making his Bellator MMA debut, following nine years under the direction of local promotions, including three appearances under European powerhouse BAMMA. After competing at middleweight in 2015, the 33-year-old Fields returned to the light heavyweight division, recording a first round submission victory over Dan Konecke at “BAMMA 24.” Fields has tallied finishes in each of his 11 career wins, making him one of the most menacing opponents for anyone standing in his way. Now the SBG Ireland product will look to make a splash in his first fight with Bellator MMA, as he prepares for the former division kingpin.
Hailing from nearby Straban, Ireland, the 20-year-old Gallagher is one of the brightest stars in all “The Emerald Island.” At age 15, “The Strabanimal” moved away from home to join Coach John Kavanagh at Straight Blast Gym (SBG), where he now trains alongside the best fighters in the country including Connor McGregor. Having made his Bellator debut in London this past July in London, Gallagher followed up in December with a submission victory over Anthony Taylor in front of a raucous home crowd at the 3Arena in Dublin. Gallagher’s opponent will be announced in the near future.
Updated “Bellator 173: McGeary vs. Fields” Main Card:
Light Heavyweight Main Event: Liam McGeary (11-1) vs. Chris Fields (11-7-1)
Featherweight Feature: James Gallagher (5-0) vs. TBD
Fight Report: Gianluca (Rio) Di Caro
Photos: Paul Green
Last weekend I found myself flying across the Irish Sea to Belfast for the first Malta Boxing Commission (MBC) sanctioned pro event in the province, Chuck Tolan’s Fianna Promotions ‘Ruaille Buaille’ event and boy oh boy and was it worth it.
But before getting onto the boxing, I have to say what a great city and great people, I was made incredibly welcome and the fans on the night, at the incredible Devenish Complex, were just plain awesome and really made it special, I’m sure the amazing atmosphere and energy they generated must have really lifted the home fighters.
Headlining the event see Belfast’s very own Tommy ‘The Tiger’ Tolan challenge fellow Belfast lad Phil Townley for the inaugural Irish International Middleweight title.
Tommy’s career has undertaken a bit of a resurgence the past twelve months or so, after a run of losses going back to 2011 the Irish bruiser has been putting in some great performances.
I felt he was unlucky not to get at least a draw against George Hillyard back in August last year, but perhaps that spurred him on when he came up against Matt Scriven just three months later and again against Rastislav Frano in February.
Those wins against Scriven and Frano set Tommy on course for his first headline fight, as well as the title shot, and Tommy wasn’t leaving anything to chance.
Right from the off both protagonists set about their business at a high pace, Townley being particularly forceful coming forward, which initially put Tolan on the back foot.
About midway through the round Townley backed Tolan onto the ropes and started to work the body of his opponent, however during one particularly frenetic exchange there was a sickening thud as their heads clashed.
Townley came out the worse, with a nasty cut on the top of his forehead, which oozed blood into both eyes. Referee Lee Murtagh stopped the proceedings and got the ringside doctor to check the cut immediately.
After cleaning the blood from his face it was clear the cut wasn’t quite as bad as it seemed and the fight continued.
Townley was a little hesitant on the restart, which opened the door for Tolan to entertain the crowd with some superb combinations behind a seriously forceful jab.
Round two much more of the same, with Tolan taking control of the proceedings in style.
On about the minute mark a nasty gash burst open on Townley’s cheek, have to say I’m not sure if it was from a punch or accidental head-clash again, as this happened during yet another very close quarters slugfest.
Either way, Townley was heavily bloodied and beginning to look just a little battle worn.
At the end of the round ringside doctor, Dr Robert McConnell and Chief Trauma Medic Chris Robinson inspected Townley’s gashes and then spoke with the referee.
With the knowledge that if the cuts open up again the fight will be stopped Townley came out in a more defensive mode, however this kids a fighter and after about ten seconds or so threw caution to the wind and went on the attack big time, what followed next was an all action toe-to-toe war.
With about thirty seconds of the round remaining the inevitable happened, not only had the gash on Townley’s cheek opened up again, but another cut opened up over his right eye.
Townley wiped the blood away from his eyes with his glove and went straight on the attack again, but Tolan was having none of it and let rip with a big right followed up with a double handed flurry of shots, in doing so backed the now covering up Townley onto the ropes and went in for the kill with another barrage of shots.
With just five seconds of the round to go referee Lee Murtagh stepped in to save the troubled and bloodied Townley from the inevitable knockout.
Have to say the fight may have only lasted three rounds, but there was probably more action in that nine minutes than you normally see in a ten rounder that went the distance.
Following the result being announced by legendary Irish MC Harry McGayock MBC’s Jennifer Burton and Irish International Championship Supervisor David Walshe presented Tolan with the Championship belt, much to the joy of the highly vocal local crowd.
Prior to the excellent Tolan-Townley title fight, Belfast’s sensational Eamonn Magee Jnr was in action against Latvian Dinars Skripkins.
What a fight, two seriously classy and talented young fighters in action against each other, this had the makings of being a true classic.
Initially it was a highly technical boxing display, more like a pugilistic chess match, yet played out at a frenetic pace, both Skripkins and Magee put on a fantastic display of boxing for the packed house, however it proved to be a short lived affair.
On about the one minute mark, Magee slowed his attacks and began picking off Skripkins with pin point accurate shots to the head and body, which in turn caused the Lithuanian to change his tactics in an attempt to regain some level of control.
After about thirty seconds or so of sublime boxing from both men, Magee stepped in with a big right to the body of Skripkins, which sent the Latvian down to the canvas.
Skripkins tried desperately to make it back to his feet as referee Lee Murtagh made the count, however his efforts were in vain, instead the young Latvian faced a TKO defeat on the one minute and fifty three second mark of the first round.
Magee Jnr is clearly the real deal, this kid has it all and what’s more he was in against a seriously good opponent in Skripkins, and came through with flying colours, great win that’s for sure.
My final words on this fight, it may not have lasted long, but if these two ever have a rematch I want to be there, it was that good.
Making his pro debut was former amateur star Matthew Fitzsimmons, against fellow debutant Latvia’s Aleksndrs Birkenbergs.
Just as with Magee Jnr-Skripkins this was another well matched bout.
From the opening bell Birkenbergs positioned himself centre ring and looked to control the proceedings, however Fitzsimmons was having none of that, especially as they were fighting in front of his home crowd.
Keeping his cool young Fitzsimmons was content to pick off his opponent with targeted shots to the head and body every time Birkenbergs would step in with an attack.
About a third of the way through the first round Fitzsimmons stepped up the pace, yet still retained his accuracy, leaving Birkenbergs no option but to cover up for periods of time until an opening for a counter attack presented itself.
Fitzsimmons changed tactics slightly in the second, going onto the front foot and taking the fight to Birkenbergs right from the off.
Birkenbergs is as brave as they come, he just kept coming forward at every opportunity, unfortunately for the youngster this played right into Fitzsimmons very capable hands, the Irishman dancing in and letting rip with either a pin point accurate shot to the head or body or a double handed flurry before stepping out before Birkenbergs could get a decent counter in.
Around the two minute mark, Fitzsimmons landed a rib cracking body shot, literally, but the brave Latvian youngster just shook it off and tried to get back to his boxing.
During the break both the doctor and referee Lee Murtagh went to check on Birkenbergs, who was clearly in a lot of pain. After a quick discussion with his corner it was decided that it would be foolhardy for Birkenbergs to continue.
Have to say Fitzsimmons is another classy youngster and boy oh boy did he showcase his skills on Saturday night, definitely one to watch for the future.
Prior to the three pro bouts there were five Exhibition bouts, organized by the IBA, to showcase just what the fans can expect when the MBC introduce the ‘Novice’ Pro format later this year.
The ‘Novice’ Pro concept is designed as an introduction to the pro ranks for talented amateurs more suited to the pros style wise but with only limited amateur experience, or on the other hand experienced fighters from the unlicensed scene looking to make a tentative move to the professional ranks.
Whilst the licensing and medical standards are virtually the same as with the regular pros, the Novice Pros bouts will be of two minute duration and can only be matched with others licensed as ‘Novice’ Pros.
The first of these bouts see Barry McCafferty beat Ben Robinson by a 40-36 points decision.
The next up see Mark McMahon beat Steve Keown for the IBA Gaelic Middleweight title by a 40-35 points margin.
Third bout see Michael Collins beat Stevie Martin in a four round Cruiserweight contest by a 40-37 points margin.
Johnny Lawson stopped Darren Butler with a cracking bodyshot on the one minute and fifty six second mark of the first round.
In the headline exhibition bout, Marty Kayes secured the IBA Irish Title with a 60-54 points victory over Karl Savage.
As I said at the beginning of the report this was my first time in Belfast and I enjoyed every single second of it, great City, great people and as for the show well what can I say, it was first class, at a great venue and it was packed with the most appreciative and friendly fans I have ever had the pleasure to meet.
Belfast boxers Tommy ‘The Tiger’ Tolan and Philip Townley are set to go toe to toe with each other, for the vacant Irish International Professional Middleweight title, at the Devenish Complex in Belfast this coming Saturday, March 14th.
The transformation of Tolan’s career over the past year has been astonishing, following a string of losses going back to 2011 his career began to turn around late in 2014, when he beat Matt Scriven in Leeds.
In February this year Tolan returned to Leeds to secure another excellent win, this time over Slovakia’s Rastislav Frano, who at that time was coming of two big wins himself.
Speaking from his home earlier Tolan said.
“I’m really looking forward to Saturday, It’s going to be a great night.
It’s been two years since I last fought here in Belfast so I’m really up for fighting in front of a home crowd again and hopefully I’ll bring home the belt to really celebrate St Patrick’s Day in style.”
Supporting the all Belfast headline bout sees another local lad Eamonn Magee Jnr, the son of the former Commonwealth and World Boxing Union World Champion of the same name, making his second pro outing against Slovakia’s Dinars Skripkins.
Magee comes into the fight high in confidence, following his sensational second round stoppage win over Zoltan Horvath on his debut back in June.
In taking that victory, Magee Jnr proved to be a proper ‘chip of the old block’, the youngster boxed beautifully throughout, but more importantly finished off his more experienced opponent with a world class left hook, in much of a similar manner as his famous father had done on so many occasions during his illustrious career.
Former amateur star Matthew Fitzsimmons, will be making his pro debut on the show, against Slovakian Aleksandrs Birkenbergs.
Fitzsimmons had a stellar amateur career, winning forty seven of his fifty one outings, and the smart money is on the youngster being yet another star of the future to emerge from the famous All Saints club.
In addition to the bouts above, there will further bouts featuring local fighters.
Tommy Tolan versus Philip Townley, for the vacant Irish International Professional Middleweight Championship, headlines the Fianna promotions event at the Devenish Complex in Belfast on Saturday 14th March 2015.
Sanctioning for this event will be provided courtesy of the Malta Boxing Commission (MBC) – www.maltaboxingcommission.com
Tickets, priced £20 are available from the boxers taking part or call Tommy on 07907 030852 or Peter on 07516 260955.
Doors open 6:30pm, first bell 7pm.