The Irish Eye: April part 1

Kane Clarke
05/05/2017 1:55pm

The 'Dubliner Down Under', Darragh Foley, leads part one of Kane Clarke's April round-up of the latest news involving boxers from the Emerald Isle...

The 'Dubliner Down Under' Darragh Foley took to the ring for the second defence of his WBA Oceania light-welterweight title at the Doltone House, New South Wales, Australia on 8 April and came from behind on the judges' scorecards to spectacularly knock-out slick Filipino Sonny Katiandagho, who came into the bout with an impressive record of 11(6)-1 which had seen him pick up the WBC Youth & WBC Eurasia Pacific titles along the way.

When the action got started it was the southpaw Foley who landed the first telling shot of the bout, a crisp straight left-hand finding its way through the guard of Katiandagho and on to the chin, momentarily staggering the Filipino who regained his composure immediately as the feeling out process took place.

In the second, Katiandagho started to find his range a little and snapped the head back of Foley on a couple of occasions with the jab, whilst remaining wary of the Irishman's range and ability to counter with the left. But it wasn't until thirty seconds into the third that the 24-year-old Filipino landed his first solid punch, catching the Dubliner with a straight right as Foley threw the left-hook.

Throughout the opening rounds, the clash of styles and differences in stance led to numerous clashes of heads, which started to show on Foley's face where a small cut appearing above the left eye as well as some swelling on the cheek bones. At the end of the third round after the bell had clearly sounded, Katiandagho landed a blow to the body of Foley and, after acknowledging his mistake, immediately tried to apologise to Foley with a hug, which was quickly rebuffed from the frustrated Irishman with a push as things started to heat-up at the Dalton House.

The fourth round saw Katiandagho land the cleaner work with a couple of piercing right hands finding their home, but 'Super' Foley remained dangerous throughout, looking to land with the big left hand but missing more often than not. Into the fifth and Katiandagho started to pick up the pace, putting his punches together which was beginning to show on the swollen face of Foley who was struggling to get his shots off.

Coming out for the sixth round and, with the tide starting to turn in the Filipino's favour. It was clear that Foley had to pull something out of the bag - and soon, as his left eye began to completely close over. This forced a change in tactic and stance from Foley as he came out and boxed orthodox for the first time during the bout, and the switch paid off for the Irishman massively as he threw a check left hook to grab Katiandagho's attention before a huge right hand down the middle sent the Filipino crashing to the canvas.

Referee Les Fear immediately waved the bout off and a jubilant Foley climbed the ropes to salute his travelling supporters whilst the game Katiandagho remained on the canvas sat upright for another minute or so trying to regain his senses.

Click here to watch the full fight

Foley's new professional record now stands at 11-2 with an impressive eight wins coming by way of knockout. Speaking to T2T Boxing about the fight and the finish, the Dubliner said: "It was a nice right hand wasn't it? Leading up to it - it was a good hard fought fight, it was scrappy at times, there was a lot of feeling out, there was a lot of range finding, there was a lot of fucking head-butts - a lot of head-butts. But in the end I got the job done, my power bailed me out, and ill be a lot better the next time."

When asked about what damage was done to his face during the bout, Foley quipped: "It was the first time I've ever went into a fight Caucasian and came out looking North Korean. I'm all good though, we went to the doctors, we got scanned. There's no broken orbital bones, my eyes are intact, my records are fine, everything's fine, it was just from that repetitive skull smashing of your face. Just bruises and that's it, I'm fine."

When asked what's next for 'Super Foley' he stated he wants to be in the ring again soon, and knows exactly the fight he wants: "Late June/ early July, Ceasar Amonsot. I'm number 15 with the WBA at the minute, he's number 4, after this [fight], when the ratings get updated next week, I'll be number 10, if not better.

"There's been correspondence about getting the fight done before, maybe as a final eliminator or something. I'm the WBA Oceania champion, he's the WBA interim Oceania champion, how many times do you hear the champion calling out his mandatory - how many times? I want to fight my mandatory, I want to fight him, I don't want to fight anyone else, he's number 4, I'm going to be in that top 10 soon, let's get it on."

Thirty-one year old Filipino Amonsot is currently 34-3-3 in his professional career, which hasn't seen him lose a fight in ten years since his unanimous decision loss to Michael Katsidis for the interim WBO lightweight world title back in 2007, and would certainly prove a tough test and massive step-up for Foley, but the ultra confident Irishman believes in his skills and feels he has served his apprenticeship during his career and is ready for the big fights.

Last month Dublin welterweight Jay Byrne stepped up to middleweight to challenge former GB amateur stand-out Felix Cash over six-rounds, putting on a gallant performance before going down on the judges' scorecards to his much bigger foe. But his performance warranted a recall from Matchroom supremo Eddie Hearn to earn him another slot on a sky card on 15 April.

Stepping up two weights again, the Loughlinstown man would introduce 2016 Rio Olympian Josh Kelly to the pro game over six rounds on the Ricky Burns v Julius Indongo unification world title bout in the SSE Hydro, Glasgow, Scotland, and again put on a valiant display to take the impressive Kelly through the motions before going down 59-55 on the referee's scorecard.

Watch the full fight here

Byrne is clearly a proud man and by no means was taking these fights against top amateurs with a doubt in his head that he could lose. He came to win and upset the applecart but unfortunately just came up short against two better fighters. The first two losses of Jay's career momentarily had him considering his future career as professional boxer, but thankfully he changed his mind, and posted the following message on Facebook a couple of days after his fight:

"Back to the drawing board anyways, few changed to be made, I need to work on a lot of stuff. I don't want the name for being this 'warrior'! [My] Heart, chin and fitness are great , but I need the hands on a level par with them, and after a good bit of thought, I will certainly NOT be walking away from the sport! I will be working ten times harder on my technical game, and the next time I'm in the ring, [the] differences will be seen."

Jay won't have to wait to long to try remove the memory of his first losses in the paid ranks, as he takes to the ring on 27 May as Leonard Gunning (Boxing Ireland) & Tony Davitt Promotions host 'Celtic Clash 2' at the National Stadium in Dublin, and with Matchroom announcing that they will return to Belfast on 10 June for Ryan Burnett's challenge for Lee Haskins' IBF world title, Byrne looks to be in a good position to feature on that card also, hopefully this time in the home corner.