The Irish Eye: March part 4
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 four Kane Clarke reviews the latest developments in the careers of two former amateur rivals ...
Jason Quigley and Conrad Cummings' names get thrown together quite a lot in Irish boxing circles. Many believe the old amateur rivals are destined to fight for a middleweight title of some sort at some stage in their respective professional careers, so it was quite fitting that both Ulstermen picked up their first trinkets in the paid ranks within a day of each other in March.
On Thursday 23, at the Fantasy Springs Casino, Indio, California, Donegal man Quigley picked up the vacant NABF middleweight title with a hard-fought points win over tough American Glenn Tapia, topping the card on the inaugural Golden Boy on ESPN show.
After dominating the opening rounds, which saw 'El Animal' rock Tapia badly in the first, Quigley then injured his hand badly in the second, letting his experienced opponent back into the fight.
From the third round onwards, the former European amateur champion boxed predominantly behind the jab, and still did enough to take the decision on the judges' scorecards 100-90, 99-91 and 98-92.
Speaking to Highland Radio after the bout, the Golden Boy promoted fighter stated: “I felt very comfortable in the fight, in first, second and third round. I felt in control and I felt it’d be an early night – that I’d stop him.
“But in the second round I kind of hurt my hand a little bit and I couldn’t really throw my right which was the shot that was hurting him.
“They were calling me the one-handed bandit after the fight, my team. They knew, after the second round, all I was really using was my left hand Every time I went to throw the right hand, I felt like crying every time I landed, because it felt like I was cracking it up.”
On having to work his way through the injury, Quigley (now 13-0) continued: “This was a great experience that I did deal with the hand injury in the second round. I hurt the hand so I had to change my game plan, I had to get on my bike, had to start boxing smartly, using my jab, I wasn’t really able to throw power shots because of my sore hand, and I out-boxed him. I had to stay controlled, stay focused, and take it one round at a time.”
Coalisland prospect Conrad Cummings picked up his first professional title on Friday 24 March, with a devastating third round KO of Gogi Knezevic at the Meadowbank Sports Arena, Edinburgh, Scotland.
Cummings was fighting for the first time since a controversial loss to Ronnie Mittag in November last year for the IBF Intercontinental title, but was in no mood to leave the decision to the judges this time round as he downed his opponent twice en route to claiming the vacant WBO European middleweight title.
'Dynamite' Cummings now ups his professional record to 11-1-1 and will enter the WBO world rankings after finally picking up a title on his third attempt. The experienced Knezevic falls to 31-7-1.
Cyclone stablemate and former world champion Carl Frampton wrote in his weekly column in the Sunday Life: “I couldn’t be happier for Conrad Cummings after watching him win the WBO European middleweight title on Friday night.
“I have watched Conrad work his butt off every day in the gym and finally he gave the kind of performance we have all been waiting for. He bullied Gogi Knezevic from the start, cut off the ring, and finished in style. Now we’re seeing the real Conrad.”
Earlier in the month, in what was undoubtedly one of the best Irish results of a hectic March period, Ballyfermot's Stephen 'Shortty' Carroll travelled to Scotland on 3 March and outpointed Scottish champion Eddie Doyle after flooring the Scotsman in the first, securing a 77-76 decision on referee Kevin McIntyre's scorecard after eight-rounds. The result sees the Dubliner's undefeated record rise to 6-0, whilst former Commonwealth title challenger Doyle drops to 18-4.
Carroll was originally pencilled in to face-off with William Warburton in a four-round contest on the card, whilst Glaswegian Doyle was scheduled to defend his Scottish title against Lee Redpath in the headliner at the Alona Hotel, Motherwell, but with the withdrawal of Redpath, Carroll stepped up and put his Celtic Nations title on the line that he had won in his previous contest with Jamesy Gorman in Belfast last November.
He went on to retain his title with a performance that sends out a message to the rest of the stacked 140lbs division across Ireland. Speaking to irish-boxing.com afterwards, the 24-year-old proclaimed: “I was comfortable during the fight. I dropped him in the first and after that all he wanted to do was hold and tie me up. It should have been a wider score. The ref gave him three counts, one in the first and two in the last.”
On what's next after such a huge win, Carroll stated: “I have no one specifically in line. It’s just one fight at a time for me. Tony [Davitt], Martin Doran, and myself will see what is best for me.”