Dublin coach Paschal Collins wary of hometown decision culture ahead of Carl Frampton verus Nonito Donaire rumble
THE Marquis of Queensbury’s rules don’t include anything about home town advantage but claims of bias against away fighters have dogged boxing long before the first set of guidelines brought order to prizefighting chaos back in 1867.
With a trio of Dublin versus Belfast rumbles - Luke Keeler v Conrad Cummings, Jono Carroll v Marco McCullough and Phil Sutcliffe jnr v Tyrone McKenna - confirmed for the Frampton-Donaire bill, Dublin-based trainer Paschal Collins gave his view on whether the ‘away’ fighters will get a fair shake on April 21.
Collins didn’t mince his words after Dubliner Stephen Ormond had come out on the wrong side of a decision against Belfast’s Paul Hyland jnr at the SSE Arena back in November.
On the undercard of Frampton-Garcia, Collins’s fighter Ormond was out-boxed and floored early on, but he recovered to break Hyland’s jaw (with an accidental head butt) and dominated the second half of an entertaining scrap.
However, ‘Hylo’ got the decision and afterwards a composed and philosophical Collins claimed matter-of-factly: “He got robbed”.
Collins has come to accept that ‘home turf advantage’ is an written rule of the sport, but he says he won’t travel north again unless his fighter is getting well paid for his trouble.
“There was no-one involved in the Stephen Ormond fight from the north of Ireland, they were all foreign and the worst decision of the night was from the American judge,” Collins pointed out.
“They were international judges, it was in Belfast, Paul was the home fighter and he got the nod over Stephen. That’s why we felt how we felt.
“We wouldn’t go back and fight a guy from Belfast again because the same thing would happen.”
But before the Belfast boxing community reaches for mobile phones or laptops to start an online war, Collins adds that he has seen fighters in Dublin get their hand raised in bills along the Liffey.
“I’ve seen decisions in Dublin where Dublin fighters got the nod when they shouldn’t have,” he said.
“I always say that when a world champion is in a close fight, he should always get the nod because he’s the world champion and, if you don’t go and take the belt from him, that’s it.
“When you’re going into someone else’s backyard you have to take that win from them because if you don’t you won’t get the decision. Sometimes the crowd will sway the judges in favour of the home fighter because they’re cheering every single little shot he throws.
“The judges can think ‘this guy is landing a lot more’ but realistically they’re just listening to the crowd and if you have to make a decision between the local guy with the big crowd and the guy that’s coming in from abroad you’ll go with the crowd.
“Sometimes it’s just easier to go with the home fighter because he has a big support and it seems like he’s winning. It happens in every town, we’ve seen it all over the world.”
For Collins – brother of Ireland’s first two-weight world champion Steve – being the ‘away’ fighter has to be factored in before any decision is made on whether to accept the offer of a fight in another city or country.
“It used to bother me but now I just accept the fact that this is the business we’re in,” he said.
“Before you accept a fight you have to think: ‘This is what we’re up against, is it worth taking the fight?’
“If you accept fights for certain fighters the rewards have to be greater than what they are paying. The Ormond-Hyland fight in Belfast was a cracking fight but the financial rewards weren’t good.
“It wasn’t as if he got a substantial amount of money, he didn’t, so what I’ve learned from that is: If we’re going up to somebody’s backyard the fighter needs to get well paid for it.
“That’s what I’m taking from it.”
Despite Ormond’s loss to Hyland, Collins says his fighter is closing in on a lucrative fight, possibly with Scotland’s Ricky Burns, and he could feature on the undercard if stablemate Gary ‘Spike’ O’Sullivan’s showdown with New Yorker Danny Jacobs is confirmed.
“Stephen has got more press and marketability since the Hyland fight,” said Collins.
“But he cannot step into a title fight until he gets a win under his belt.
“His next fight should have been a big title fight – a step up and a big pay day – but he can’t even do that now, he needs a keep busy fight to get a win before he can move on.
“At his age (34) it doesn’t help, but he’s okay and there are big fights coming up for him and an obvious role model for him is ‘Spike’ O’Sullivan.
“They train together all the time.
“’Spike’ has had all the knockbacks but we’re negotiating big fights for him now and that’s exciting for Stephen and now you’ve got Anthony Crolla, Ricky Burns, Tommy Coyle who are similar age to Stephen and they’re the fights that he wants at this stage.
“He wants to be able to sit back and have a few bob. Stephen and Ricky Burns would be huge – they’ve sparred before and there is nothing between them.
“Win or lose, they’d walk away with something to show for it.
“At the end of the day, it’s a job and as ‘Spike’ said when he went to Canada for his last fight ‘if I get enough money to buy a house out of my career, I’ll be very happy’.
“He got a big win in Canada (over Antoine Douglas on the Billy Joe Saunders-David Lemieux undercard in Montreal) and now he’s very close to doing the deal with Daniel Jacobs so he’s at the stage now where he can have that house and that’s what Stephen Ormond wants.
“Goldenboy and Matchroom are hopefully going to confirm it and we’d like to get Stephen on that card too.”