Pajo calls it a day and retires with his head held high

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Local hero Pajo Hyland announced his retirement from boxing last Saturday, 12 years to the day since his professional debut.

The 33 year old Jobstown native retires with an impressive record of 31-3 from a career that also saw him win the Irish featherweight title and a WBF belt.

In a statement delivered via Twitter, “The Punisher” thanked his family, friends and associates for all their support throughout his boxing career while paying a particularly special tribute to his beloved late father and trainer Paddy, who died in last year. He said:

“After 24 years in boxing and 12 years to the day since I made my professional debut, the time seems right to announce my retirement from the sport I loved my whole life,”

“There are so many people who have helped me on my journey, first and foremost of course is my Dad. I owe everything to him, from day one he showed me everything I know and the last year has been so hard without him since he passed.”

Pajo had been working with Packie Collins, brother of former two-weight world champ Steve, in Corduff’s Celtic Warriors Gym for his most recent fights following his father’s tragic death.

Pajo and his son Callum
Pajo and his son Callum

He came up short in a world-title challenge against classy WBC champion Gary Russell last April before struggling to make the featherweight (126b) limit in advance of his defeat to Leeds’ world-rated Josh Warrington two months ago.

“Fighting a guy I believe to be a future hall of fame in Gary Russell for the world title and another world-class talent in Josh Warrington would have been difficult at any time, but without my Dad in my corner those tasks were made even harder.

“However, I can retire happy in the knowledge that I tested myself against some of the very best in the sport on the biggest of stages.”

Pajo picked his 2008 Irish title win over former European amateur champion Paul Griffin as his career highlight while also saying his big fight-night experiences in the US provide very special memories to him.

Last year, he recorded a fourth-round knockout win over Columbian Manuel de los Reyes Herrera at New York’s Madison Square Garden during a four-fight winning streak.

“Challenging Javier Fortuna for the world title on a massive card at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas and headlining a card at the Theatre in Madison Square Garden in New York is the stuff most boxers dream of, but I got to live it and I enjoyed every minute of it,”

Pajo is also full of praise for his mother, as well as his wife, Lorna, for their support, while former trainers Tracy Patterson, Paul Cook and Packie Collins were among many boxing figures he thanked for helping him.

Everyone at InTallaght wishes Pajo the very best for his retirement and thanks him for all he’s done for local boxing.