The Irish Eye: May part 3
May was another jam-packed month in Irish boxing, so we are bringing you a special three-part edition of 'The Irish Eye' to make sure every base is covered... In part three Kane Clarke brings us news of a mammoth 15-fight card at the National Stadium in Dublin...
Boxing returned to its spiritual home in Ireland on 27 May and created history in the process as Leonard Gunning of Boxing Ireland promotions teamed up with Stephen Sharpe and Tony Davitt promotions to put together 'Celtic Clash 2' which featured the largest number of professional bouts to take place on a single fight card in Ireland, with 15 bouts scheduled at the National Stadium in Dublin.
The card was headlined by standout amateur Eric 'Lilywhite Lightning' Donovan's fourth round stoppage of Laszlo Horvath of Hungary, in a scheduled eight-round contest.
The 31-year-old Donovan started well, but Horvath came forward with his own barrage of punches half-way through the round and was keen to show he wasn't just here to make up the numbers. However southpaw Donovan dominated the opening exchanges, showcasing great ring generalship, and lightning fast hands.
The dominance began to pay off for Donovan in the second when he dropped Horvath with a left and right hook to the body, followed by a right hook to the head. Horvath rose immediately, to his credit, but was soon sent crashing back down when Kildare man Donovan landed a left hand to the body that had Horvath rolling on the ground wincing in pain. But again he got up, and Donovan was more than happy to inflict more pain.
The third round started with Horvath targeting the body of Donovan, but the Irishman was quicker to the punch, countering with ease. Horvath gamely kept pressing forward, and went toe-to-toe with Donovan mid-way through the third, but Donovan was landing the telling punches, and finished the fight in the fourth with a right hook to the body, right uppercut, left hand, that forced the gumshield from Horvath's mouth, and an inspection of the eyes from the referee who let the bout continue. Donovan then again opened up with right hands, forcing Horvath down and the referee to call a halt.
Post-fight, Athy man Donovan (now 4(3)-0 told Kildare Now: “I want the Irish title. It’s nothing personal with any fighter - I just want the belt. I am not sure what featherweights there are out there, obviously there is Alan Phelan, but I am willing to fight whoever. The Irish title gives you a European ranking and winning the European title is my dream."
Phelan was fighting on the undercard the same night and duly disposed of Polish fighter Dawid Knade in the third round of the scheduled four.
Speaking to irish-boxing.com afterwards, Phelan, now 8(5)-2(1)-1 said: “It’s good to get my first stoppage win at home. To be honest I felt a little drained, but I still managed to put in a performance. He was awkward, but when I did catch him he didn’t like it all. He wanted out of there as early as the first round. I felt like the stoppage was coming, but I have had that before and the lad would survive. I wasn’t looking for it this time, I think the way I box if I look for it it won’t come. So I stuck to boxing with a bit a power.”
The 25-year-old featherweight wasn't directly asked about a possible match-up with fellow Kildare-man Donovan, but hinted that it might not be in his immediate plans, saying: “I hope to be up to a six rounder next. I just want to get back to where I was and fighting regularly. I am still young I want to get back to where I was and when the time is right I will look for the titles.”
Elsewhere on the undercard, Gerard Whitehouse moved to 6(1)-0 with a six-round points decision win over Hungarian Gabor Kovacs (now 7-3).
The 21-year-old welterweight dominated from start to finish, and told irish-boxing.com: “The fight went well. It was a good performance. I caught him at the end of the first round which shook him and it put him on back foot for rest of the fight. He wouldn’t stand and trade. I didn’t do much wrong. If anything I could have upped the pace and got the stoppage.”
On what's next for 'Crank' he stated: “I’m looking for a title fight. Fitness is never a problem with me, I train very hard and I’ll be ready for the task ahead.”
Whitehouse was originally rumoured to be fighting Jay Byrne on the 'Celtic Clash 2' card, but the fight fell through and Byrne instead took to the ring against Daniel Przewieslik of Poland, outpointing the tough journeyman to improve his record to 5(1)-2(0).
The 30-year-old Byrne openly admitted that he "had some personal stuff" going on in his life in the lead-up to this bout which had restricted his training, and told irish-boxing.com afterwards: “I said it in the interviews leading up to it, it was probably the worst six weeks of my life. I had some personal stuff, so I wasn’t training and I hadn’t been in the gym. I done nothing for this fight.”
On the fight itself, Byrne stated: “I hurt this lad one or two times but I hadn’t got it in me to step it up. I got caught a few times too. I was tired after two rounds and you know that’s not me. You saw me in England against top opposition and doing the rounds wasn’t a problem. I was constantly going forward in those and I couldn’t do it tonight. After it all I am delighted with the win. I wasn’t near my best and I got a win over a good enough guy.”
European title chasing Lynn 'The Hunter' Harvey continued her recent good form with a TKO victory over Bulgaria's Ivanka Ivanova to improve her record to 4(3)-1.
The Killbarrack flyweight told irish-boxing.com afterwards: “I would like two more fights before that [EBU title shot], but I am excited. The European title is only a stepping stone for me. I want [a] world [title], but we will talk about that next year.”
Elsewhere, Ballyfermot's Celtic Nations champion Stephen 'Shortty' Carroll pushed his unbeaten record to 7(1)-0, with a six-round points victory over Ferenc Jarko of Hungary, who fell to 2(1)-2(1).
The Dublin super lightweight has long been mooted as a possible opponent for Tallaght's Sean Creagh, who was also on the bill. Creagh and titles definitely seem to be on the agenda for Carroll, who told irish-boxing.com post-fight: “I want the Irish title and I want it right now.
“Hopefully Sean will step back up and we can get it on. That’s a big fight and one people were talking about before. Hopefully we can get that done as soon as possible. Two Dublin lads fighting for the Irish title it would be a great fight. It’s time we fought now. I hope he wants it.”
Sean Creagh has never been the type of man to back down from a challenge, as Irish fight fans well know, but first he had to get through his contest on 27 May, which was his first since a bicep injury picked up in his Celtic Warriors title fight with Tyrone McKenna in November last year.
'Creaghzy Horse' Creagh beat Bulgarian journeyman Teodor Nikolov on points in a four-round contest on the night, to up his record to 5(2)-1(1), and told irish-boxing.com afterwards: "I think it’s time myself and Shortty got it on. We both want the Irish title, we both do tickets and we both come to fight. What more would you want?”
We look forward to that one.
Elsewhere on the undercard, there was an Irish fight of the year contender between 'The Irish Eye' 2016 Warrior of the Year, Alec Bazza and debutant Liam Gaynor, as the two went to war in a thrilling four-round contest, that saw Gaynor come out with a points victory.
The 19-year-old, Gaynor told irish-boxing.com afterwards: “That was just brilliant - a great experience. I was expecting him to come and have a go and I am delighted he did. I thought I’d box better, but I got the win. People said Bazza was a tough start, but you have to take chances in this game and a win against him is a good start for me.
“I was nervous going into it, not because he said he was coming to win or anything, but just debut nerves. All boxers have that win or fight mentality. I knew I was going to have to work, but that is what you want. He [Bazza] told me after that it was a good all-Ireland fight and it will be fight of the night."
Carl McDonald and Rohan Date also continued their unbeaten starts to professional boxing, moving to 2-0 and 3-0 respectively. Date was making his Irish debut and stopped Ferenc Szabo in the first round, while McDonald outboxed Georgi Andonov over four to pick up a 40-36 points victory.
There were also plenty of young Irish fighters making their professional debuts on the historic card.
There was a stoppage victory for John Joyce - who stopped Patryk Jackowiak in the first round, downing him three times on the way. Super-middleweight John Corcoran stopped unbeaten Mateusz Rybarski via fourth round TKO to get his career off to the perfect start.
And Dublin super lightweight Stephen McAfee go his pro career off to a flying start with a third-round TKO victory over Marcin Ficner.
There were also pair of wins for highly touted debutants Regan Buckley and Keane McMahon, who cruised to points victories over journeymen Gary Reeve and Lukasz Kuc respectively.
The sold-out show was a huge success and 'Celtic Clash 3' looks already to be in the works, with 9 September being rumoured as the potential date, with the National Stadium again the venue.
Also on 27 May, there was a debut for Waterford welterweight Dylan Moran, who impressed massively, as he outpointed tough journeyman Chris Jenkinson at the Bowlers Exhibition Centre, Manchester, England.