Best of luck to local boxer Pajo Hyland as he takes a second shot at a world title, competing for a belt that only one Irishman in history has ever won.
The Jobstown native meets reigning featherweight champ Gary Russell Jnr at Foxwoods, Connecticut later today (Live Sky Sports 1 3am Sun Tallaght Time) hoping to become only the second Irishman after Wayne McCullough to win that particular title.
“The Punisher” has had an extremely emotional year following the death of his father Patrick Snr last June but he showed his class and mental strength in October when he defeated David Martinez in Massachusetts.
It was his fourth consecutive victory since suffering his only career lone defeat which came in his WBA World Featherweight Title fight against Javier Fortuna in December 2012. It was also the first time in his entire career, amateur of professional, that his father wasn’t in his corner for a fight.
Now he has a wonderful chance to honour his father in the greatest way possible by bringing a world title to Tallaght.
Speaking ahead of the big fight he said:
This is a fantastic opportunity to fight for the WBC title, one of the belts that I’ve always wanted to hold.
It means the world to me to be fighting for this title against a real champion like Gary Russell Jnr.
I think he’s a great fighter who does everything well so I have to be at my best on fight night.
But I know I can beat him and take that belt home to Ireland.
I’m just a lad from Jobstown in Tallaght who works hard and loves the fight game.
I’ve been trained all my life by my father, may God rest him, and to win a world title will make all of his hard work and effort worthwhile.”
American Russell will present a formidable challenge. The 2008 Olympic Gold medal winner is a wonderfully talented boxer and he looked very impressive in his four round defeat of ex champion Johnny Gonzalez last March.
After losing on points to Vasyl Lomachenko for the WBO 126 title in June 2014 he returned to winning ways six months later with victory against Christopher Martin before winning the WBC title in emphatic fashion against Gonzalez.
His first defence last November against Oscar Escando had to be cancelled after he suffered a cut during a training session just under two weeks before the bout and having been unable to defend his title until now he is determined to show he is a worthy champion.
“I’m excited about being back in the ring,” he said
“It’s been a year because of an injury, but I’m feeling great and more ready than ever. I’ll be prepared for anything.
“I’m looking forward to meeting Mr Hyland and I’m ready to prove I’m the best featherweight in the world.”