Pody McCrory to headline in August as Irish boxing looks to bounce back
PODY McCrory could headline at the SSE Arena on August 5, or even Feile an Phobail in Falls Park in the third week of that month as Irish boxing looks to get back on its feet after back-to-back disappointments.
First Katie Taylor lost her title challenge for Chantelle Cameron light-welterweight belts in Dublin – Gary Cully and reigning IBO champion Dennis Hogan lost on the same bill on May 20 - and then, last weekend, Michael Conlan was knocked out by heavy-handed Mexican Luis Lopez.
With the two top performers beaten, Irish boxing needs a good news story and super-middleweight contender McCrory is chasing a fight against WBA super-middleweight champion Dave Morrell - who needed less than a round to take out Brazilian Yamaguchi Falcao last month.
McCrory has also mentioned the possibility of facing the winner of Jason Quigley versus Edgar Berlanga who clash at Madison Square Garden on June 24.
Tyrone McKenna, Anto Cacace and Pierce O’Leary are also being lined up to fight on the August card and another bill, which will include Lewis Crocker, is in the works for September.
ON the way out of the Europa Hotel after last Thursday’s press conference I shook hands with South African featherweight Ludomi Lamati. Warrior Lamati took on England’s Nick Ball as chief support to Conlan-Lopez at the SSE Arena on Saturday night and he made it into the 12th round before – with their fighter exhausted – his corner threw in the towel.
Lamati collapsed in the corner and was taken to hospital. His condition remains critical and we can only hope and pray that he makes a full recovery.
ANTO Cacace hopped over a ringside barrier to spend time with family and friends after he’d ground out a comfortable unanimous-decision win last Saturday night.
Cacace found the whole build-up to his first fight in Belfast for eight years more than a little surreal. So used to fighting away from home, his mind played tricks on him and he said he didn’t feel like a combatant at all as he made his way to the SSE Arena ring.
“It was really weird because I did not feel like I had a fight the whole time,” he said.
“Even walking out to that ring, I did not feel like I was fighting. It was such an anti-climax, you’d think when you’re fighting back home you’d have that buzz but I’m used to having to cope with different surroundings. This was just like another four-round spar.”
When the action started Cacace showed himself to be a level above his opponent in his first defence of his IBO super-featherweight title. What’s next for ‘The Apache’? He wants to fight for one of the mainstream titles in his division and he wants to do it as soon as possible – Welsh IBF champion Joe Cordina is the man in his sights.
“I want a big fight,” he said.
“Anyone of the champions next. I’ve served my time in this game, I’ve given everything to it so where’s my wee bit back?”
Now 34, Cacace doesn’t necessarily have time on his side but there’s no sign of age catching up with him. He did the 12 rounds comfortably but was disappointed that he didn’t stop his Polish opponent when the opportunity arose.
“I hurt him numerous times,” he said.
“I heard him wince, I saw his eyes turn and I didn’t capitalise and that’s a BIG factor for me. I’d give myself a three or a four (out of 10) but I won, I beat him by six-seven rounds.”
He gestured towards his daughter who was there to cheer him on. His dad was there too and family is what Cacace is fighting for.
“I’m doing my family proud and the fans are loving it and that’s all that matters to me,” he said.
CONOR Quinn gained a lot of new fans with a clever and courageous performance against experienced Juan Hinostroza on Saturday night.
With a boxing IQ to match his skills, the West Belfast super-fly provided more evidence that he has the tools to go a long way as he out-fought the game Peruvian over eight competitive rounds.
Hinostroza came to win but Quinn moved through the gears smoothly and finished strongly over the final two rounds to seal the best win of his career so far.
“It was the type of fight that you’re either going to win and prove you’re at that level, or fall short,” he said.
Quinn spent a most of the fourth and fifth rounds pinned on the ropes or in a neutral corner in an intense head-to-head slugging match with his opponent. He explained he’d done so to drain the legs of Hinostroza.
“I was happy to be there,” he said.
“He’s a strong fighter, very strong coming forward and for me to move round him was taking a lot of work and maybe not taking so much out of him. It was in the third or fourth round and I said to myself: ‘Right, I’ll let him come and see what he has to offer’. Instead of me making him miss and picking him off I thought I would see what he could do on the ropes and make him work a bit.
“At the end of the round, he took a big, deep breath and I says: ‘Right, that’s what I expected’. He’s a strong guy but he couldn’t handle that.”
Spain-based Hinostroza has been ranked as high as three in the EBU ratings so his scalp was a very valuable one for Quinn to take so early in his career. Coming through a step up like that so well is obviously a massive boost for his confidence but he wants to progress stage-by-stage.
“I only started back boxing eight months’ ago,” said ‘The Magnificent’.
“It would be crazy for me to say: ‘I want to go to world level’ for my next fight. I took a round or two off in the middle because I knew that, as it got tougher, I was going to prevail and he wasn’t.
“He’s a great fighter and I’ve watched him over the years. Before I was even pro, I watched that guy give people tough fights – it’s just a shame for him he fought me tonight because he gave a great performance himself but there could only be one winner.”
PIERCE O’Leary lived up to his ‘Big Bang’ moniker on Saturday night. The Dubliner looked primed for a step up in class while defending his WBC International super-lightweight belt in just a minute and 11 seconds against out-gunned Romanian Alin Florin Ciorceri.
O’Leary dropped Cioceri inside a minute and then finished the job to move to 12-0 with a seventh stoppage win.
“It was a very calm performance,” he said.
“I went out to establish the jab early on and frustrate him. I saw he had tight hands and he was just looking to bang. Once I established the jab I wanted to walk him onto a shot and that’s exactly what I did. I knew I had him hurt, I looked at his legs – they were buckled – and his eyes weren’t in the right place so I had to jump on him.”
O’Leary predicts that by the end of the year he’ll be European champion and pushing on for world honours and after Katie Taylor’s loss he says he’s the man to headline boxing in his native city.
“I’ll be saying to Frank (Warren) let’s go back and do Dublin,” he said.
JAMES Freeman completed more competitive rounds (four) last Saturday night than he had in his entire boxing life up to that point.
The Armagh middleweight made his debut as the last of the 12-fight card and it was past midnight when he finally got started against veteran London journeyman Jordan Grannum.
Freeman had damaged his right hand in sparring but, having sold a vast amount of tickets in his native Cathedral City and with a large support there to cheer him on, he went through with the fight and worked hard to score a points win.
Still very raw, he ran out of gas in the final round but there was evidence in his crisp jab and cross-handed defence that the box/fighter has ability to go alongside his ambition and courage.
“I think he still has a lot of experience to gain,” said his coach Dan Anderson.
“You have to take on board that he didn’t have an amateur career. That’s more rounds than he ever got before. When he fought on the semi-pro circuit he was knocking boys out and we had to explain to him that, when you step up to being a professional, it’s a different game.
“It’s a big learning curve for him and that was an extremely hard debut but, at the end of the day, he’s got rounds in the bank and that’s all I wanted for him. I just wanted rounds for him and he got four rounds which I would prefer to a stoppage because he’s learning on the job.
“This guy is going to take five-to-eight fights of learning before we even consider him for anything serious. It’s all experience at this stage.”
Freeman also had former Commonwealth Games champion and British welterweight contender Paddy Gallagher in his corner on Saturday night. Anderson sees ability in the former Armagh GAA star but he isn’t going to rush him along.
“I wouldn’t be working with him if I didn’t see potential in him,” he said.
“He came to me and he’s able to hold his own against other professionals at a decent level in the gym. That’s why we gave him the opportunity. We talked about what was best for him and he wanted to give it a go – he’s already had a career in amateur sport as a Gaelic player for Armagh so he’s done with amateur sport and he wanted to give professional sport a go.
“Tonight he got valuable rounds and learned a valuable lesson that pro boxing is no joke. It’s a big step up to pro boxing to fighting on an unlicensed show but he’s got rounds in the bank and he won his debut. What else can you ask for?”