Sean Duffy grabs his chance to impress on night of disappointment for Paul Hyland junior

Sean Duffy stopped Paul Holt in Bolton last Friday night. Picture Mark Marlow.
Sean Duffy stopped Paul Holt in Bolton last Friday night. Picture Mark Marlow. Sean Duffy stopped Paul Holt in Bolton last Friday night. Picture Mark Marlow.

SEAN Duffy’s can-do attitude paid off last Friday night when he grabbed the opportunity to shine in Bolton. Despite having just four days’ notice, the Keady super-featherweight took on Paul Holt and blasted the experienced Englishman out in the third round.

Duffy had last fought in 2019 and he began like a man who’d been trapped in a cage for the last 15 months who had a personal grudge to settle. He signalled his intent from the first bell with measured ferocity, landing stinging right hands and well-timed counters. By the midway point of the round, he’d driven startled Holt into a neutral corner with a salvo of accurate shots to head and body.

The Englishman did battle back gamely but Duffy, who was cut over the left eye in a clash of heads, caught up with him in the third. Holt was pinned on the ropes and Duffy calmly took a step to his right and ripped a left hook under his guard. Holt sank to his knees and never looked like getting back up.

“I was just glad to get back in the ring,” Duffy said afterwards.

“Me and Harry (Hawkins, his coach) have worked on the bodyshots a lot and I knew it was only a matter of time before I got one in. I realised in the second round that I needed to take a step back and quit trying so much and concentrate more on my movement and the shots would come – and so they did.”

With a crowd-pleasing style and the gift of the gab, Duffy grabbed his opportunity with both hands and is now targeting a showdown with unbeaten English super-featherweight Danny Carr (12-0-1).

“We were delighted,” said his coach Hawkins.

“It was the first opportunity we’d had in a while to get him out. Last year we were due to fight and then he picked up an eye injury and the fight was pushed back to the following month. But then Covid kicked in and it didn’t happen.

“But he just kept plugging away. He’s been training and doing a lot of sparring with (Anto) Cacace and Paul Hyland. I got a phonecall last Monday morning from Jamie Conlan to see if Sean would be ready to take a fight and we just jumped at the chance.

“Holt was more experienced than him but it didn’t matter who it was – Sean wanted to take a jump and get back into it so we took the fight at short notice, made the weight okay and it was a great performance and very good stoppage.”

PAUL Hyland’s challenge for the British lightweight belt ended in disappointment on Friday night. The Belfast fighter was shipping a lot of punishment when he was stopped, in bizarre circumstances, in the eighth round by Maxi Hughes.

The Englishman, who had lost out in two previous challenges for the Lonsdale belt, had edged the early exchanges but Hyland was beginning to box his way back into an all-action contest when Hughes turned the tide again in the sixth with a bodyshot that dropped a clearly winded ‘Hylo’. He never really recovered and, with the non-stop pace catching up with him, he looked out on his feet by the eighth when Hughes caught him with another thumping bodyshot.

It seemed like he was going to go down again but he managed to stay on his feet and the referee called “Box on”.

Forgetting boxing’s first rule: ‘Protect yourself at all times’, Hyland turned his back on his opponent and lumbered towards a neutral corner only for Hughes to race across the ring and knock him down with a right hook that caught him flush on the jaw.

Hyland’s corner was understandably furious but, while you can argue with the sportsmanship of what Hughes did, he was acting within the rules.

Gritty Hyland bravely beat the count but the referee called it off after a minute and 40 seconds of the round.

NOT all boxers are prepared to take a fight at short notice but some are happy to grab their gloves when opportunity knocks and, as Sean Duffy proved last weekend, being ready to answer the call can pay dividends.

Back in 1976, Jim Montague took a fight with Dave ‘Boy’ Green (the Englishman who went on to tangle with the great Sugar Ray Leonard four years later) at just six hours’ notice. When the call came through, he packed his gear, got on the next flight to Heathrow and then dashed to the taxi rank where he hailed a cab to take him to the Royal Albert Hall.

“I said to the driver: ‘I need to get to the Albert Hall – quick’,” Jim explained.

“Typical taxi driver, he never looked round, he just twiddled his fingers. I said: ‘There’s an extra tenner there for you if you get me there as quick as you can’.

“He says: ‘Right, put your seatbelt on’. That drive from Heathrow to the Royal Albert Hall was scarier than getting in to fight Dave Boy Green. My knuckles were white sitting in the backseat!”

Irish Olympian Jim’s eventful career also included a clash with Roberto Duran conqueror Kirkland Laing and an appearance on a Boston bill headlined by the late Marvelous Marvin Hagler.

He lost on points to Green that night but left the Albert Hall with a wad of notes for his trouble.

“One of the sports reporters dropped me off at Heathrow about half-one in the morning, the flight to Belfast wasn’t until about eight,” he recalled.

“Everything was closed. There was a cleaning woman mopping the floors. I asked her if there was anywhere to get anything to eat, she said everything was closed but she’d wake me when her shift ended about five in morning.

“I had the purse from the fight - £600 in cash – on me, so I went into the toilet and put the money down my trunks. I was thinking: ‘If anybody tries to steal this, they’ll have to let me know!’

“I had a bag full of boxing gear and my trunks were full of tenners and I went out and had about four hours’ kip. It was great and when I woke up the money was still in my trunks!”

Jim’s final fight, the 40th of his 15-23-2 career, was versus Clinton McKenzie for the British light-welterweight title at Maysfield Leisure Centre in October 1978.

“I hadn’t made lift-welter for about five years but I took it anyway,” he says.

“But it didn’t work out – my wife could have put up a better show! My previous fight, against Tony Petronelli, I weighed 10st7lb and I felt great but to fight McKenzie I weighed in at 9st12lb and you’ve no idea how much weight-loss affects you.

“Having said that, I wanted to fight him at the weigh-in because he made a few remarks to me and I threatened to break his nose there and then. I couldn’t get into the ring quick enough, I was busting for it.

“I remember coming back after the second round and saying to Philip, my manager, and Lockie Kelly: ‘This is easy’ but I think that’s the last thing I do remember! They pulled me out after 10 rounds.

“I was just totally drained. I was offered a couple of fights after that but they fell through and I just forgot about it then.”