The Irish Eye: July
July was another busy month for boxers from the Emerald Isle, with success for Declan Geraghty and Michael Conlan, but disappointment for Anthony Cacace...
Declan Geraghty returned to action on 1 July for the first time since his Irish title defeat to James Tennyson, and jumped straight back in at the deep end with another tough fight, taking on the undefeated Scotsman Michael Roberts Jr (19(1)-0-1), at the Lagoon Leisure Centre, Paisley, on a MTK Scotland promoted show.
The bout was initially meant to be for the BBBoC Celtic super-featherweight title, but weight issues during fight week meant that was scrapped, and the British Promoters' Association International Challenge belt was brought in.
Regardless of the belt, it was a tough test on paper for both fighters, but it was the slick southpaw skills of 'Pretty Boy' Geraghty that prevailed, with the Dublin fighter out-boxing and out-smarting the hometown fighter to take the ten-round decision 98-92 on referee Kenny Pringle's scorecard, to chalk up a career-best win thus far.
The 27-year old MTK fighter spoke to IFLTV after improving his record to 15(4)-2(1), and taking Roberts Jr's '0' in the process. "That was the biggest bonus," Geraghty said, "that he was undefeated. Obviously it was nice to take his 0, but credit where credit is due - he was a very good boxer, he gave me a hard, tough ten-round fight.
"His boxing is a lot better than I thought it was going to be, there was no footage of him, there's only two minutes of footage of him on the internet, so I'd never seen him, I was just told things, but a lot of people said he was a good boxer, but he was a lot better boxer than I thought he was.
"The plan was to box him the first three rounds, and then start turning the volume up a little bit, but his boxing was a lot better than I thought it was so I stayed with the boxing. It was a close contest, I was more aggressive - I thought I was going forward a little bit more. Take into consideration I only had five weeks for this camp, I was doing no training after the Tennyson fight, I went up to 70kg, so in five weeks I lost 11kg, which is an awful lot of weight for anyone.
'I've a great manager who supports me 110 per cent and I couldn't thank him anymore, he's an absolute diamond of a man, he's like family and he knows I'm willing to fight anyone, I have not performed to anywhere near [the standard] to what I do in the gym, and he can tell you that, and anyone at MTK could tell you that, when I'm sparring over there...
"I'm not going to name people but the people that come over at my weight I absolutely school them, and they're fighting for WBO Intercontinental and European belts, and I've schooled them whenever they've came over sparring, sparring lightweights, light welterweights and welterweights, and I'm only a super featherweight, I was actually going to do featherweight for this title fight but it was a little too late notice."
Elsewhere, Michael Conlan took a break from headlining cards across America, to feature on the undercard of a certain Manny Pacquiao on 2 July at the Suncorp Stadium in sunny Brisbane, Australia, in front of 55,000 spectators.
The Irish came out in force to support the west Belfast man as they always do, and watched in awe as Conlan systematically broke down the brave efforts of local journeyman Jarrett Owen with hurtful body punches, forcing the referee to call a halt to proceedings in the third round as Conlan pushed his record to 3(3)-0, with all his stoppages coming in the third round.
"I felt my performance was a lot more improved than my last performance, my last two performances," was Conlan's assessment post-fight. "I feel like I'm progressing naturally, little by little every time I'm in the gym, each fight I'm getting better and better.
"I think tonight, I was expecting Jarrett to give me a bit more of a fight, I even said to him in the changing room after 'I thought you were going to give me a bit more of a go' but he says his team told him just to move, they didn't want to trade.
"I was happy with my performance, and happy with the stoppage."
Conlan will return to action on 22 September at the Convention Centre, Tucson, Arizona, in another six-rounder against an opponent to be confirmed.
Anthony Cacace returned to the ring on 15 July at the Wembley Arena, London, to finally get his shot at a British title, nearly two years after his final eliminator. 'The Apache' has been due to fight for the prestigious title since knocking out Ronnie Clark in October 2015, but due to circumstances out of his control the fight was yet to materialise.
Martin J Ward (17(8)-0-2) would be his opposition, with the undefeated Essex man looking to hold on to the famous Lonsdale belt for keeps having fitted in two successful defences against Maxi Hughes and Ronnie Clark since beating Andy Townend for the strap in September last year. The vacant Commonwealth super-featherweight title was also up for grabs.
The 28-year-old Cacace had not fought since November last year, but many in Irish boxing circles thought he had the beating of Ward, but unfortunately it wasn't to be for the Lenadoon puncher, as he went down to a narrow points decision 116-114, 116-113, 115-114 after twelve close rounds.
Many thought the decision was very harsh on Belfast's Cacace who dropped to 15(7)-1 following his first professional defeat, with many observers having him one or two rounds up in a close fight. Argentinian commentators covering the bout were recorded laughing at what they called a 'home decision,' themselves having scored the bout eleven rounds to one in Cacace's favour. The Irish Eye scored the bout 115-113 in favour of 'Anto' but appreciate that some swing rounds could have easily been given the other way.
"I thought I won the fight, I know it was a close fight but that's boxing, isn't it? what do you say?" a clearly disappointed Cacace said afterwards.
"To train eight weeks to be disappointed, like that. Alright - he's British champion, but I believe and thought I won seven of the first eight rounds, fair play to him he came on in the later rounds but, I don't know, it is what it is."
When asked what he thought made the difference in the fight, Cacace quipped: "Judges. Me being in London and not being in Belfast maybe made that, you know, [gave] a wee bit of an edge for him, but what do you say? it is what it is.
"I expected to knock him out to be honest, he was trickier, and he kept dipping down, and I was dipping down as well but the shots that I envisioned landing on him were going over his shoulder, and he was hitting me constantly with the shoulder and holding and hitting me to the back of the head, I don't know what to say...sorry. I thought I won the fight, it's boxing, it's a stinking game, that's just the way it is."
Cacace is now rumoured to be chasing an scrap with another Belfast banger James Tennyson, and the fight could be made for the undercard of Ryan Burnett's unification showdown with former sparring partner Zhanat Zhakiyanov at the SSE Arena, Belfast on 1 October.
Mullingar lightweight Davey Oliver Joyce took to the ring for his second professional bout since turning professional with MTK before the summer, at the Brentwood Centre, Essex on a MTK London promoted show, on 22 July.
The 2016 Olympian impressed massively on his debut in Belfast five weeks previously, and put on another scintillating display, stopping the usually durable Lesther Cantillano at the end of the third round, to improve his perfect record to 2(2)-0.
In what was a statement win, considering Cantillano has never been stopped and went the eight-round distance with former European champion and world title challenger Stephen Jamoye in January, the 30 year-old stand-out amateur said post-fight: "I was happy with it, I enjoyed it. It was probably better than my last performance. He was a tough lad, hadn't been stopped yet as far as I know, just nice to get the win an get the stoppage, and I'm now two and zero."
'DOJ' plans to be back out again in September in Belfast, possibly on the Ginley Promotions show on 16 September.
Lewis Crocker was meant to be appearing at the SSE Arena, Belfast for his third professional fight on 29 July on the undercard of Carl Frampton's return to the 'Jackal's Den' - a venue where Lewis had watched Frampton as a fan growing up. It was due to be the 20-year-old Crocker's first live TV fight, having featured only in highlights on his previous outings on Boxnation, a channel he won June's 'Punch of the Month' on recently.
But the card wasn't to be as Frampton's Mexican opponent, Andres Gutierrez, fell in the shower after his weigh-in, leaving him needing hospital treatment on his chin, nose and teeth, and forcing the cancellation of the whole card.
Luckily for the MTK managed Crocker, his team were able to get him on an MTK Birmingham card the very same night at the Grand Tudor Grange Leisure Centre, Solihull, where he dismantled Polish journeyman Sylwester Walczak in the first round, knocking him down twice before knocking him unconscious.
The wins saw the powerful Belfast welterweight improve his perfect record to 3(3)-0.
The month finished with Bray lightweight Katie Taylor making her U.S debut, on the Adrien Broner vs Mikey Garcia card at the Barclays Center, Brooklyn, New York, on 29 July.
The former Olympic champion was in top form as she dominated American Jasmine Clarkson for three rounds before the one-sided showdown was called off.
The inside-the-distance win sees Taylor improve her perfect pro record to 6(4)-0 as she chases a world title shot. The brave Clarkson dropped to 4(0)-9(1) after her night's work.
“I think I’m definitely ready for a world title fight. I’m ready and willing to step into the ring with anyone, so I hope a world title is on the way next,” a jubilant Taylor told the American press after Saturday’s victory.
“It was great and a fantastic experience for my first fight in the US. There was a lot of nerves before the fight but I thought the whole occasion was great and it was great to get the stoppage as well.”
“I thought I did okay, and got caught with a few silly shots as well and a bit sloppy at times, but I thought it was a good performance. I felt good and strong in there tonight.”
“I thought the reception was fantastic and there was a lot of Irish in the crowd which made it very special for me. I hope to create a good fanbase over here as I said earlier on in the week and I hope I gained a few more fans here tonight.”
Looking ahead, Taylor is hoping to return Stateside in the near future and stated that “I don’t know what the plan is but the more fights out here the better. I think I’m definitely well known back home in Ireland and in the UK, so it would be great to get more fights over here.”
There was more Irish interest on the undercard as Cork welterweight Noely Murphy continued his upward trajectory with a points decision victory over fellow undefeated fighter Julio Cesar Sanchez over eight rounds to improve his unbeaten record to 11(2)-0.
The Lou DiBella-trained prospect is still only 23-years-old, and is gathering quite a reputation for his all-action, eye-catching style in the U.S.
"It was incredible, that was my third fight here in the Barclays, I fought in January as well and beat another undefeated fighter, I could get used to it," a slightly bruised Murphy said post-fight. "The key to victory was just being patient and landing my shots, he was a very awkward opponent, very defensive, but you have to get past that and I let my hands go and they did the talking."