Irish Boxing Stars Shine In Event Held At Boston’s Historic Orpheum Theatre

joe gallo17.03.08 - by Pavel Yakovlev, photos by Joe Gallo: -- click here to view photo gallery -- Several promising young Irish professional boxers highlighted an event held at Boston’s historic Orpheum Theatre tonight in a card promoted as “Celtic Invasion 2008”. Gary “Spike” O’Sullivan, Patrick Hyland, Michael Sweeney and Jonathan O’Brien – all former amateur stars in their native Ireland – impressed in their bouts. The card also featured several talented out of town boxers, such as Miami’s Antoine Smith and Philadelphia’s David Williams.

All of tonight’s bouts featured novice professionals, and were thus scheduled for four, six, or eight rounds. Only one of the bouts went to the cards.

The match was co-promoted by Celtic Pride Boxing and 451 Promotions and it drew several hundred local fight fans. The physical atmosphere in the compact Orpheum Theatre reminded this writer of small, legendary boxing venues such as Philadephia’s Blue Horizon, and hopefully it will be the first of a series of exciting cards held at this location..

Tonight’s promotion was a success from the perspective of creating the gritty aesthetic of small, inner-city boxing cards. The selection of the venue was ideal. Given skilled matchmaking and the right boxers as headliners – possibly even tonight’s Irish fighters when they reach main event status – the promoters should be able to stage exciting club cards in the future and possibly attract coverage from small sports cable telecasters.


Cruiserweights Michael Sweeney and David Williams fought to a four round draw in what proved to be the most competitive fight of the night. Sweeney, 191 lbs., started fast and won the first two rounds, but he was in full retreat before the heavier, stronger Williams in the third and fourth rounds.

For the first two rounds, Sweeney boxed effectively and utilized his superior hand speed to easily outscore Williams. Moving laterally in circles around his foe and scoring well with his left jab, Sweeney looked physically and stylistically like his countryman Steve Collins, the world super middleweight champion from Ireland in the 1990s. When the fighters were at close range, Sweeney flurried rapidly with short hooks from both hands to the head and body. The Irishman was fast on his feet and accurate with his punches, and Williams was able to accomplish little during these rounds.

Beginning in the third round, however, the 197 lbs. Williams took command of the bout. The lean, powerfully built Philadelphian backed Sweeney up with his steady, stalking attack. At close quarters, Williams exhibited superior strength by bulling Sweeney around and unleashing heavy punches with both hands. Sweeney covered up well and avoided serious punishment during the third and fourth rounds, but Williams won these rounds because he was on the attack and forcing Sweeney to run.

Two of the judges called the fight even at 38-38, and the third judge voted in favor of Sweeney, 39-37. This writer scored the bout 38-38.

After the match, Sweeney disclosed that he had injured his right hand in the second round, and for this reason he felt compelled to use it sparingly in rounds three and four. Sweeney has a history of right hand boxing injuries.

Sweeney, of native of Ballinrobe, County Mayo, Ireland, is a fighter to watch. As an amateur he won 90 of 100 bouts and he captured four Irish national championships. One of his biggest amateur wins was a second round stoppage of Andy Lee, who is currently one of boxing’s most promising up-and-coming professionals.

Sweeney is currently fighting above his natural weight class of 175 lbs. and he expects to campaign in the light heavyweight or even super middleweight divisions in the future. His professional record now stands at 3-0-1 (1 knockout).

Williams’s record is now 5-1-1 (2 knockouts). This writer was impressed with the coolness and strength Williams displayed in turning the tide against his foe tonight. The Philadelphian looks to be in excellent physical condition and he obviously carries solid power in both mitts. Boston promoters would be wise to have Williams back for future local cards.


In a welterweight match, Antoine “The Truth” Smith of Miami, Florida stopped Youngstown, Ohio’s Jesse Williams at 0:58 of the third round. Both boxers displayed considerable skill, athleticism and hand speed but it was Smith’s torrid attacking style that forced the referee to call the match after Williams had been dropped twice.

The first round featured many fast exchanges with Smith winning the round due to his aggressive use of his jab and frequent looping punches from both hands. Williams, a southpaw, exhibited poise and defensive skill in this round but he didn’t score enough to win it on the cards.

In the second round the action intensified, with both fighters moving inside and trading blows on even terms. Williams scored with some good shots, but Smith gradually took control of the action with his frequent, hurtful left hooks to the body. In the final seconds of the round, Smith floored Williams with a left hook and right hand combination to the head. Williams arose, but the bell sounded before the action could resume.

Smith jumped on Williams early in round three, and soon he had the Ohio native in trouble again. A right uppercut to the head knocked Williams down again, and although he arose, the referee ruled he was not in condition to continue fighting.

Smith, who weighed 148 lbs., now has a record of 9-1 (5 knockouts). Williams, who put on excellent fight despite losing, falls to 4-7-1 (2 knockouts). Williams weighed 150 ¾ lbs.


Irish junior middleweight Gary “Spike” O’Sullivan scored a first round TKO over Robert Harris, with the referee stopping the match at 3:00 minutes of the round. Harris was knocked down three times and was in no condition to continue fighting when the match was ended.

O’Sullivan exhibited intense aggression from the opening bell. Harris was dropped first by two left hooks and a right hand to the body. Harris arose, but O’Sullivan attacked him immediately and floored him with a strong left jab to the head. Again Harris beat the count, but he was hurt and O’Sullivan finished the fight by dropping him with a right hand.

O’Sullivan is a resident of Cork, Ireland, and he weighed 154 lbs. for today’s bout. He is now 2-0 (2 knockouts) as a professional. Harris, who is from Youngstown, Ohio, is now 0-1. Harris weighed 153 lbs.

As an amateur, O’Sullivan won 175 of 190 matches and he captured five Irish national championships. A silver medallist in the 1999 Junior Olympics, O’Sullivan may have the most extensive and accomplished amateur background of the fighters on tonight’s card and he warrants close watch in the future.


Undefeated Irish featherweight Patrick Hyland won his tenth professional fight by stopping Mike Dobbs of Oklahoma in the early seconds of round one. Hyland, a five time Irish national champion as an amateur, had far too much firepower for his opponent and the referee ended the match after Dobbs was knocked down for the second time. Both knockdowns were the result of Hyland’s right hands to the head.

The 24 year old Hyland, who is a resident of Dublin, is now 10-0 (4 knockouts). Dobbs falls to 10-18 (8 knockouts). Hyland weighed 134 lbs. and Dobbs weighed 137 ¼ lbs.

Hyland is a veteran of 110 amateur bouts, many of them victories in international competition. He strikes this writer as a tall, fast, stand-up boxer/puncher who brings back memories of Barry McGuigan, the well-known Irish featherweight who won a world title during the 1980s. Hyland is definitely a fighter to watch.


Dublin, Ireland’s Jonathan O’Brien won a fourth round TKO over Salah Zabian. Zabian’s corner stopped the bout at the end of the fourth round, as their fighter had no answer for the Irishman’s superior strength and aggression. The weights were 202 lbs. for O’Brien and 201 lbs. for Zabian.

The strong, bull-like O’Brien was on the offensive for the entire match, controlling the action with overhand rights and short, crisp body punches on the inside. Zabian, of Newport Beach, California, spent much of the bout pulling away from the Irishman’s attack. O’Brien was in complete command of the action, and he frequently trapped his opponent on the ropes and worked him over with heavy punches from both hands. Zabian covered up effectively but his strength was drained by the end of the fourth and his corner wisely ended the match.

O’Brien is now 7-2-1 (3 knockouts) while Zabian falls to 6-10 (4 knockouts).

As an amateur O’Brien fought 59 bouts, winning 52 of them. He won an Irish national championship and competed in Golden Gloves tournaments in the United States.


In a battle of southpaw welterweights, Luis Viramontes stopped Larry Foster in two rounds. The Mexican born Viramontes, who now resides in Brockton, Massachusetts, simply had too much upper body strength and aggression for Foster to contend with. Foster tried to box his opponent from long distance, but he was knocked down twice in the first round by strong, looping right hooks from Viramontes. After Viramontes scored two more knockdowns in the second – again from right hooks to the head – the referee waived the fight off at 0:54 seconds.

The 29 year old Viramontes is now 3-0-1 (1 knockout), while Foster drops to 0-3. The weights were 150 lbs. for Viramontes and 149 lbs. for Foster.


In an upset of sorts, Toby Wilson of Brockton, Massachusetts was stopped at 0:50 seconds of round one by Ken Dunham in a junior middleweight bout. Wilson, 153 lbs., was dropped first by a series of wide, sweeping right hands by Dunham. Upon arising, Wilson was caught by a straight left to the head that floored him again. Once more Wilson arose, but he was on unsteady legs and the referee waived the match off.

Dunham, who is from Charlotte, North Carolina, weighed 152 lbs. His record is now 3-4 (2 knockouts). Wilson is now 0-1.

Article posted on 18.03.2008

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