Boxing

Ryan Greene begins second chapter in after five years on the sidelines

Far off fields are Greene: Ryan Green returns to the ring after five years on the sidelines on a bill at the Shorts Sports & Social Club in Belfast that includes five professional fights and eight amateur contests. Picture by Hugh Russell.
Andy Watters

AFTER almost five years on the sidelines, Ryan Greene returns to the ring at the Shorts Sports & Social Club in Belfast on Saturday night.

The Lurgan middleweight – who takes on Liam Griffiths - hasn’t fought since May 2012. He was unbeaten in six back then and had just out-pointed Ciaran Healy in the quarter-final of Prizefighter at the King’s Hall when he ran into a freight-train right hand from Eamonn O’Kane.

Afterwards the Derry man explained that the shot was nicknamed ‘the bowler’ and it did for Greene. O’Kane moved on to the fringes of a world title shot, while Greene’s phone stopped ringing and he says his career “fizzled out”.

“There were no opportunities,” he recalled.

“I had no sponsorship and I was working full-time, my wife had our daughter at that time and it was just an accumulation of things.

“The way I got beat on Prizefighter didn’t help me because there were no real opportunities after that, there were no phonecalls… There was no talk of getting another fight, everything sort of died.

“Things dried up. Carl Frampton was over in England with Matchroom at that time and there were no shows over here for a year/a year and-a-half.

“It was all looking bleak so I just went off the scene. It just fizzled out and then I wasn’t training full-time, I was just ticking over.”

Southpaw Greene, who runs a business in Taghnevan, Lurgan, isn’t predicting how far he’ll go as he embarks on the second chapter of his career. In an ideal world he would fancy an Irish title shot down the line but he has to get through Saturday night first.

“I always missed it and lately I just got the taste for fighting again so I decided to make a return to the ring and see how I got on,” he said.

“I just want to win on Saturday night and then take it from there.

“I didn’t like leaving on a loss. Hopefully I’ll get the win on Saturday night and I’ll know better whether I can pick up from where I left off after the fight. I’ll know how I feel but at the minute I don’t know how I’ll perform on Saturday night.

“I’d like to box for an Irish title down the line, but that’s not what I’m thinking about at the minute. I’m just thinking about getting a few fights and seeing how I get on – I could get beat on Saturday night and if that happens, where does it leave me?

“I have to be realistic about things and I’m just thinking about this first fight. I’ll enjoy the buzz and getting out there again.”

The Shorts bill also includes eight amateur contests with five year-old East Side ABC prospect Matthew Morrow getting the action underway at 5pm.

The card also includes former Derry minor footballer Patrick Coney from Loup ABC and several other emerging stars.

Shorts Sports & Social Club, Belfast (Saturday, March 4):

Welterweight: Matthew Wilton (14-0) v Brett Fidoe (6-33-2)

Super Flyweight: Luke Wilton (16-5-1) v TBA

Middleweight: Tony Nellins (3-0) v Ross Jameson (1-7)

Middleweight: Ryan Greene (6-1) v Liam Griffiths (5-70-1)

For tickets, pay at the door or contact any of the fighters.

HEAVYWEIGHT Sean Turner top the bill at the Devenish Complex on Finaghy Road North on March 10 when he takes on durable Pole Kamil Sokolowski.

The bout, the first from Mark Ginley’s Ginley Promotions, also includes former Celtic middleweight title challenger Alredo Meli and emerging talents Tyrone McCullagh, Anto Upton and Ciaran McVarnock.

Manchester-based McVarnock has his first fight for the MTK (formerly MGM) stable when he takes on Antonio Horvatic over four rounds.

“They’ve told me that they want to hold a lot of shows this year and a few in Belfast and that’s exactly what I want,” said ‘Bunty’.

“It means that people have the opportunity to come out and see me and they don’t have to pay a lot of money to travel. Anybody that comes to the fight can expect it to be toe-to-tow because I ain’t taking a step back. No way.

“I want to give people their money’s worth and enjoy the fight.”

Devenish Complex, Belfast (Friday, March 10):

Sean Turner (9-0) v Kamil Sokolowski (2-9-2)

Middleweight: Alfredo Meli (12-0-1) v Laszlo Fazekas (30-26-1)

Tyrone McCullagh (5-0) v Michael Barnor (14-8-2)

Anto Upton (13-1) v Zaura Sadihovs (4-14)

Ciaran McVarnock (6-0-1) v Antonio Horvatic (10-31)

Ian Timms (12-3) v TBC

Stephen Ormond v TBC

A VENUE in the United Arab Emirates for Amir Khan's April 23 fight with Manny Pacquiao is expected to be confirmed by the end of the week.

The one-time stablemates they have agreed terms for a match-up, with only the location to be determined.

It is understood that that Pacquiao's WBO welterweight title will be on the line, ensuring Khan's return to 147lbs, and that the fight is expected to be staged in either Dubai or Abu Dhabi. Dubai's Sevens Stadium is one venue thought to be in contention.

Though there had been reports of a potential fight in either Khan's hometown of Bolton or Manchester, with the bout taking place on a Sunday timing would be an issue given US television demands for a Saturday night fight. An early-morning contest in the UAE would be a potential solution.

Khan's last fight in May 2016 was at 155lbs, when he challenged Mexico's Saul Alvarez for the WBC middleweight title but lost in six rounds, and he has no concerns about returning to the weight limit that has proved his most natural fit.

He has also long spoken of fighting in the UAE, where he has a southern Asian fanbase, and of his desire to test himself against either Filipinio Pacquiao or Floyd Mayweather, two of the finest fighters of the modern era.

Similarly, after years of fighting mainly in Las Vegas and Macau, the 38-year-old Pacquiao has plans to appear in new locations as he concludes his decorated career.

Pacquiao-Khan will also represent Khan's first true encounter with his respected former trainer Freddie Roach, who continues to oversee Pacquiao's career but who Khan left to work with Virgil Hunter after his 2012 defeat by Danny Garcia.

The 30-year-old previously said: "When I sparred with Manny he was dangerous. They were hard rounds and I knew then that one day I would fight him. I have been ready for a long time."

Despite having already been involved in lucrative fights, the timing of his meeting with Pacquiao could lead to the most successful period of Khan's career.

Victory is not as unthinkable as it was when Pacquiao was at his peak circa 2009, and a Khan win would usher in a new era in the welterweight division.

Next Saturday, Americans Garcia and Keith Thurman fight for the WBC and WBA titles, and later this year Khan's rival Kell Brook is scheduled to defend his IBF title against America's Errol Spence.

GAVIN McDonnell was denied the opportunity to create history by Rey Vargas in their WBC World Super-Bantamweight title fight.

Victory for the previously undefeated Doncaster fighter would have seen him and his brother Jamie - the WBA Bantamweight holder - become the first British twins to be world champions simultaneously.

The 30-year-old went the distance at the Hull Ice Arena but his first world title bout ultimately ended in disappointment after he was beaten on points by his Mexican opponent.

Vargas, 26, landed the cleaner shots throughout Saturday's fight, producing a confident performance to claim the vacant belt.

Despite the setback, McDonnell is confident he will one day become a world champion.

“My feet were a little bit slow and I just couldn't pin him. I was a little bit too eager at times and credit to Rey, he beat me fair and square," McDonnell said.

“I gave it everything and I just hope everyone enjoyed it. I feel as though I've left everybody down. The support's been fantastic, my first time topping the bill and I just fell short this time.

“I've gone the distance there with a great fighter and I've shown I belong at the level, I just need to start tweaking things. No doubt I'll be a world champion, it's just a few more fights to get another crack.”

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