News: Andy Lee; Caballero vs Mathebula; Dean Byrne

Andy Lee’s disappointment over a scheduled Madison Square Garden date falling through has proven to be short lived after he secured a place on the Hunky Dorys World Title Fight Night at The O2, Dublin on Saturday, March 21st. Lee was set to top the bill at the famous New York venue on March 16th but despite that show falling through the Limerick middleweight’s training won’t go to waste with promoter Brian Peters adding him to an already star studded line-up at The O2 on Saturday week..

The main event features Dublin’s own Bernard Dunne challenging for Ricardo Cordoba’s WBA Super Bantamweight title in the first World title fight on Irish soil in 13 years. Two other World Champions will also feature on the card in the shape of World and European amateur champ Katie Taylor and World Junior champ, Ray Moylette. A third amateur contest on the bill sees 2008 Olympic medallist Paddy Barnes in action.

The professional side of the undercard is just as exciting with Lee joining a line-up that already features unbeaten star Andy Murray in a European Union title fight and Jim Rock taking on Italian warrior, Alessio Furlan with prospects Michael Kelly and Anthony Fitzgerald also in action.

Lee says he was devastated by the news that the planned New York show had been scrapped. “When I got news the plug was pulled on my headliner fight at Madison Square Garden on March 16, I was bitterly disappointed, not just for myself but for all the other boxer's on the card and all the people from home who had spent their money to travel to New York for the fight.

“After weeks of training, preparation and build up, to be told that it was all for nothing was a big let down. For me personally it was an opportunity to initiate and take forward my plans for 2009. I was physically and mentally prepared for the fight and it would have been the perfect comeback fight after my recent layoff.”

However Lee admits he’s now buzzing once again at the thought of his upcoming bout at The O2. “As one door closed, another door opened for me within 24 hours. Brian Peters Promotions stepped in to save the day after an initial phone call from my team. To be fighting on the undercard to Bernard Dunne in his quest to win a World Title in Dublin is a great honour for me. The Irish are the best sport supporters in the world, the atmosphere will be electrifying and it will be a memorable occasion with it being the first World Title fight in Ireland in 13 years.'

Lee hopes the fight can see him get back on the road to title contention following a lengthy lay off to recover from surgery to repair a cut eye suffered in his thrilling win over Willie Gibbs in Limerick last July.

“My plans for the rest of 2009 is to advance my career with developmental fights taking me to the next level of being in the top 10 of the World Ratings. Although my career is based in America, I relish the opportunity of fighting at home. But it’s fight one fight at a time and my focus is now firmly on March 21.”

Lee’s manager and legendary trainer Emanuel Steward says he’s looking forward to sampling the atmosphere at the new O2 in Dublin on a huge night for Irish Boxing. “The disappointment of the March 16 fight in New York soon evaporated when my good friend Brian Peters came into the picture,” said Steward.

“Brian is a very pragmatic guy always thinking on his feet. To put Andy on the card on this momentous night for Irish boxing was a wonderful gesture.”

Tickets for the Hunky Dorys World Title Fight Night are priced from €50 and are available now from Ticketmaster (phone 0818 719 300 or visit Tickets are also available from Ticketmaster outlets nationwide.

Caballero Risks WBA/IBF Belts vs. No. 1 Mathebula Friday, April 24, On SHOWTIME

Fresh off a smashing victory over Steve Molitor in a world title unification fight last Nov. 20 on SHOWTIME, exciting southpaw Celestino Caballero (31-2, 22 KOs) of Panama will defend his WBA/IBF junior featherweight belts against mandatory challenger Jeffrey Mathebula (22-1-2, 12 KOs) of South Africa in the main event on a special World Championship edition of ShoBox: The New Generation Friday, April 24, on SHOWTIME.

The event, which will air live at 11 p.m. ET/PT (delayed on the west coast), will originate from the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Fla.

The lone two-belt-holder in a talent-laden division, the tall and powerful Caballero has won 12 in a row, including both of his starts on SHOWTIME, and has stamped himself as the one to watch at 122 pounds.

Caballero, who is also the WBA Super Champion and 2008 Panama Fighter of the Year, turned what most expected to be a competitive matchup into a rout as he totally outclassed and dismantled then-IBF kingpin Molitor en route to an impressive fourth-round TKO. It was Caballero's fourth consecutive win inside the distance.

Mathebula, who has been victorious in seven straight and is unbeaten in his last 10 (9-0-1), earned the No. 1 ranking and a shot at Caballero by taking his last outing on a 12-round unanimous decision over Julio Zarate in an IBF title elimination bout on Aug. 29, 2008.

If victorious, the once-beaten Mathebula, who owns a win over former 122-pound world champion Daniel "Ponce" De Leon, will join IBF 130-pound titleholder Cassius Baloyi as the only current world champions from South Africa.

With so many talented prizefighters at or around 122 pounds, the winner of Caballero-Mathebula sets up himself for another major fight in the near future.

Bryne doesn’t get bite out of Big Apple, yet

LOS ANGELES (March 10, 2009) – Unbeaten light welterweight Dean “Irish Lightning” Byrne’s dream to fight in New York is only delayed, not shattered, after the recent announcement that “Erin Go Brawl II,” scheduled for March 16 at WaMu Theater in Madison Square Garden, had been canceled.

Byrne (10-0, 4 KOs), fighting out of Los Angeles by way of Dublin, was supposed to fight in an 8-round bout on the card headlined by his friend, Andy Lee, and featuring his hero, Wayne McCullough. Dean, who has Freddie Roach as his trainer, works out at Roach’s famed Wild Card Gym in Los Angeles, where he has sparred with Manny Pacquiao, Amir Khan and Juan Marquez.

“I was very disappointed,” Byrne said about not fighting Mar. 16 in New York City. “I was looking forward to fighting in front of so many Irish at Madison Square Garden in New York City. A lot of my family were coming over from Ireland and booked flights. It was a big opportunity for us because they’ve never seen me fight as a pro. Hey, that’s boxing and someday I’ll fight there. I want people in New York, all up and down the East Coast where there’s a lot of Irish – Boston and Philadelphia – to see what a good entertainer I am.

“Freddie gave me the weekend off and I was back in the gym on Monday. I’ll continue training hard and hopefully I’ll be in a fight soon, maybe the end of March or in April. Someday, though, I’ll be fighting in Madison Square Garden.”

Byrne had more than 200 amateur fights, winning an Irish National title, and he turned pro in Australia, where he captured the New South Wales State belt on only his fourth pro fight, and one fighter later added the Australian crown in a 10-rounder. On his way from Australia to relocate in Boston, Dean stopped in Los Angeles and trained at World Card, where Roach took a shine to him. “He’s a tough kid who is a really good fighter but doesn’t know it yet,” Roach spoke about Byrne. “He’s learning to sit-down on his punches and has had two knockouts since he’s been with me. Dean’s learned a lot sparring with Manny, Amir and the others. He’s a lot of fun to watch, very exciting and cleaver for a young man. Early in his career he fought 10 rounds for the Australian title, so he already has that experience. He’s one of my best prospects.”

Byrne last fought in December, when he registered a win by fourth-round technical knockout against Francisco Rios Gil (13-8) in Inglewood, California.

“One of Dean’s most important dreams is to fight at Madison Square Garden in New York City,” Bryne’s manager Steven Feder (Standing Eight Management) remarked. “Ever since we started working together, Dean has told me that coming from Ireland and traveling around the world, his dream was to fight in Madison Square Garden. He was excited about fighting in an Irish community. We feel bad for Irish Ropes. Dean was looking forward to fighting on their card with Andy and Wayne. It’s too bad things didn’t work out for that show. Dean Byrne has a clear shot at really making it big in boxing. He’s 10-0 and ready to go. He never had a 4-round fight, starting with a six and going right to eights and then tens. Fans love him and Irish fans on the East Coast will embrace him once they get to see him fight. We train in LA because that’s where Freddie is but New York is my hometown and we hope New York fight fans will make Dean their adopted son."

Article posted on 10.03.2009

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