The Irish Eye: March part 5
March was a mammoth month in Irish boxing, so we are bringing you a special five-part edition of 'The Irish Eye' to make sure every base is covered... In part five Kane Clarke reviews Ginley Promotions' debut show and more ...
On 3 March boxing returned to the Devenish complex, Belfast, with former pro fighter Mark Ginley's first venture into the promotion game under the banner of 'Ginley Promotions', and what a line-up it was for 'The Dust up at the Devenish'.
To start the night off, Belfast middleweight Alfredo Meli outpointed Laszlo Fazekas of Hungary over six rounds to up his unbeaten record to 13-0-1, while Fazekas fell to 30-27-1.
Southpaw 'Fredo' started brightly, pushing his opponent back with the jab and opening up with combinations when he pinned Fazekas to the ropes, finishing with a thudding right hook to the body on most occasions. A straight left hand down the middle towards the end of the round had Fazekas covering up to see out the round, as Meli looked in cruise control.
Throughout the middle rounds the Immaculata man bossed proceedings boxing from the centre of the ring, using his jab to work his way in and punishing the Hungarian export with hurtful combinations to the body and head when he forced him to the ropes.
In the final stanza, Fazekas upped his output, trying to land the big overhand right but without any success as Meli was happy to cover up, slip the danger coming his way and counter with one-twos to see out the bout and take the decision 60-54 on referee Hugh Russell Jr's scorecard.
Speaking with irish-boxing.com afterwards, the 'Mac Man' stated: “I was glad to back to the home ground and it was good to get another win under the belt."
Up next, Dublin lightweight Stephen Ormond made short work of his opponent Norwin Galo as he finished the Nicaraguan after just forty-eight seconds of the opening round, with a double left-hook to the body to improve his record to 24-3, while Galo falls to 7-8.
Speaking with irish-boxing.com afterwards, 'The Rock' said: “I’m delighted to win, obviously, but I was going mad for more rounds. It was like going to stay there and it was great, so I went for a few body shots and it was different. He’s got a hard head, so he would have been there for a while if I had gone to the head, but I just saw the body shot.”
Meanwhile, Derry super-bantamweight Tyrone McCullagh upped his undefeated record to 6-0 with a points victory over fellow southpaw Michael Barnor of Ghana. In a frustrating four-round contest, 'White Chocolate' had his opponent down in the second round after a combination, but Barnor complained to the referee that it was in fact a lack of grip on his footwear that had sent him to the canvas, and successfully bought himself two minutes respite as his corner applied bandages around his boots. He continued to slip and slide throughout the rest of the contest and heard the final bell but saw his record slip to 14-9-2.
Speaking with irish-boxing.com, a frustrated McCullagh stated: “He was very unorthodox and awkward, I thought I was awkward! He came to survive and that’s what he’s done. With a better opponent who comes to win, they’ll get caught more.”
Up next, Belfast featherweight Ciaran McVarnock took to the ring for his first hometown fight in over two years, and dominated proceedings throughout to take a clear points decision victory over tough journeyman Antonio Horvatic of Croatia.
'Bunty' started well and was working the body of his Balkan opponent in the opening couple of rounds. Horvatic found another gear in the third, but was met head on from McVarnock who showed a tremendous array of attacks to the body and head, and saw out the final round with ease to take the decision 40-36 on the judge's scorecard and improve his unbeaten record to 7-0-1, while Horvatic drops to 10-32.
A jubilant McVarnock told irish-boxing.com: “it was great. The only thing I wanted there was the rounds. I felt him wince a few times when I hit him to the body and Arnie [Farnell, coach] was telling me to jump in and attack him again and go for a second phase.”
The main event in Ginley Promotions' inaugural show was former English champion Anto Upton's six round victory over Latvian Zaurs Sadihovs.
The youngest of the Upton brothers worked mostly behind the jab, and showcased some fancy footwork throughout the bout, switching from orthodox to southpaw with ease, to easily outpoint Sadihovs, who didn't have much in his arsenal to trouble the Belfast man.
In a post-fight interview with irish-boxing.com, 'Anto' said: "It was kind of frustrating, but the main thing was that I wanted to use my jab, I never used my jab [before] but I used it tonight. I’m just happy to get my first performance under my two new trainers, I’ve a lot of love for them, so onwards and upwards."
Elsewhere, on 4 March, Alio Wilton and Prospect Boxing returned to the Shorts Sports and Social club in Belfast with a small card featuring just four bouts.
To kick the night off, unbeaten welterweight Matthew Wilton moved to 15-0 with a one-sided six-round points victory over Lithuanian journeyman Arvydas Trizno, who dropped to 24-61-3. “I want a British title this year, I want a British title shot. I shouldn’t be too far away” 'Speedy' told irish-boxing.com afterwards.
Up next, Belfast welterweight Tony Nellins fought out an early contender for Irish small-hall fight of the year, in an all-out war with English journeyman Ross Jameson which ended in a 39-39 draw from judge Hugh Russell Jr.
'The Baddest man in Belfast' Nellins' record now reads 3-0-1 and he is eager for a rematch with Jameson, having told irish-boxing.com post-fight: “The only thing I can do, what I want to do, is avenge the draw. I want to fight again and get by him, get the win.”
Elsewhere on the card, Lurgan middleweight Ryan Greene made his return to the ring after a five-year hiatus to outpoint tough journeyman Liam Griffiths in a hard fought four-round battle which improves his record to 7-1, while Griffiths falls to 5-71-1.
Looking back at the win, Greene told Irish-Boxing.com: “I felt good. I hadn’t been training these last two weeks because I tore a muscle in my leg! I’ve had to diet these past two weeks and watch my weight, but apart from that everything’s been fine. My leg felt fine in there, but my timing was a wee bit off. I think I could have put a better performance on, only for that [leg injury]. I was probably only at 80 per cent there, but a win’s a win.”
Brother of Matthew, Luke Wilton was also making his first walk to the ring after some time out, having not fought since a failed attempt at picking up the British title against English prospect Charlie Edwards last year on the Frampton vs Quigg card in Manchester.
'Winky' took a couple of rounds to get started in the scheduled four-rounder, but produced enough to see off the challenge of the game Brett Fidoe, to take the decision 40-38 on the judge's scorecard and up his record to 17-5-1, while Fidoe drops to 6-32-4.
Speaking to irish-boxing.com after the fight, the 28-year old Belfast man said: “it was just a step on the ladder – and I barely got on it to be honest! There was some rust there! It took three rounds to even chip some of the rust off. I’m just glad to be back at and get the wheels in motion.”
In Scotland on 24 March at The Crowne Plaza in Glasgow, Dublin cruiserweight Ian Tims picked up a fifth-round TKO victory over Hungarian Attila Palko.
'Timsey' (now 13-3) is chasing an Irish title shot, and told irish-boxing.com: “It looks like things are coming together now. I boxed well the last time in Belfast and in Scotland last week. We changed a few things with Phil [Sutcliffe, trainer] and I am feeling good. There was talk of [Stephen] Simmons, but he has an injury that meant he couldn’t take the British title fight. Watkins seems a good lad and anyone Paddy Fitzpatrick has time for and rates must be good.
“It would be a good fight. I never lost the Irish title, I shouldn’t have been stripped. They say it was because of inactivity, but everyone was inactive at that time. I get stripped and then made number one contender for a belt I had?
“I just heard the Watkins talk in passing, hopefully it can be done in May or June. You know me, I’d fight anyone. I will do my bit stay fit, healthy and focused and I will be ready for whoever they want me to fight.”