Belfast’s Darren ‘Raging Bull’ Corbett Primed for Ring Return

By Brendan Galbraith - The last time I spoke with Darren Corbett was at the Rogan-Sexton II media day in Victoria Square Mall, Belfast. After we had surveyed Sexton do his pad work with trainer Graham Everett, Corbett reflected that he missed the buzz of being in the ring and was keen to seize an opportunity of a couple more fights. A couple of days later, there were full houses at both the Rogan-Sexton II bill [Odyssey Arena, Belfast] and the McCloskey bill in Meadowbank Sports Arena, Magherafelt – highlighting, despite an economic downturn, the thirst for the sweet science in Northern Ireland. On this evidence, fight fans in Ulster could anticipate a busy fight calendar in 2010.

Surprisingly, three months into 2010 and there are still no confirmed bills in Belfast. However, with Brian Magee and Paul McCloskey holding European Titles, Martin Lindsay holding the British Title and Belfast-trained Andy Murray also a European Title holder – there is no shortage of options for headliners.. Indeed, there are plans afoot for several promoters to run shows in April, May and June. On that basis, I decided to rekindle my conversation with the popular former Commonwealth Champion, Darren Corbett, to gets his views on a potential return to the ring this year.

What are your plans for this year – a return to the ring?

“Hopefully in the next month or two I am trying to get a fight. I am trying to get back down to Light Heavyweight and get an Irish Title Fight somewhere down the line.”

You still hold the Irish Cruiserweight Title, but you would prefer to get down to light heavy?

“Yes, I am still the Irish Cruiserweight Champion. With the Cruiserweight (title), I would defend that too – but they all just seem to want you to give it up. If they want to fight for it, I am the Champion – so why not.”

And would you consider a fight at heavyweight?

“Oh aye, I wouldn’t mind a fight with Sexton (Sam Sexton). I didn’t think Sexton was special – but I knew that he would beat Rogan – I stated that from the word go [Corbett sparred with Sexton for both Sexton-Rogan fights and in an interview I did with Corbett for – Corbett indeed predicted a Sexton victory].”

Are there any domestic lads that you would like to face for an Irish belt?

“I know that Jim Rock was the light heavyweight champion and I remember talking to Jim one time in Dublin and he said that he would rather give it up than fight me. Sure there is the likes of Jonjo Finegan – the guy he took it off. You never know. I am just trying to get myself sorted and get myself back on my feet. I don’t drink or smoke or nothing.”

There is talk of a few shows being in the pipeline both North and South of the Irish border…

“That would be great. I am not contracted to anybody. I will fight on any of them. I sell a lot of tickets in Belfast.

Are you still at Sacred Heart and are you training?

“I am still at Sacred Heart. As I said, I don’t drink or smoke and I am trained young ones at the moment and it is keeping me fit.

What fights would you ideally like to get this year in Belfast if possible?

“I know Frank Warren wants to get back to Belfast for the market in Belfast. It would be a nice fight there with the European Light Heavyweight Champion, Nathan Cleverly. Cleverly is a great boxer, but you have to take the opportunities.”

Do you think a fight with Cleverly might be a possibility?

“It could be. Frank Warren wants back into Belfast – so it would be a good opportunity to get back into Belfast. Cleverly is a good young up and coming fighter, but I don’t fear anybody. I am up for them all. Recently, Michael Hughes called me on behalf of Frank Warren to see if I would like to fight Sexton – but he never got back to me.

I also spoke with Paul McCausland, he was trying to line-up the Irish Title fight with John Joe Finnegan, but he hasn’t got back to me. It is one to get you back. It is a ten-rounder right away to get you back, and you wouldn’t worry about how much money you were getting because it is not about the money at the minute, it is just getting yourself back and then you can worry about the money. I don’t want to be known as the nearly man – I should have been champion. ”

The name of Michael Sweeney cropped up in the conversation:

“Sweeney (Michael Sweeney) is useless. That is another one. He wanted me to give up the title. Why not fight the champion? That is what boxing is all about. To win the title – you beat the champion. There was him and there was John O’Brien. They were cheering ‘we can do this and we can do that’ but they wanted me to give up the title. Why should I give up the title – it was my first ever professional title and I cherish it.”

Corbett also went on to explain his last performance in Prizefighter:

“The Prizefighter did me no justice. Mickey Steeds was the toughest kid in it and I beat him. The next fight [semi-final with Ovill McKenzie], which nobody understands, on the way into the ring I slipped and fell onto the canvas. The cameras didn’t show this. I was going to pull out. I slipped and fell on the canvas and the blood was running down my leg the whole way through the fight. I just lost concentration – that is all it was. Ovill McKenzie, I would fight him again any time.”

So, the message from Corbett is clear. He is willing to fight anyone. Corbett is trying to come down to light heavy, but will fight at Cruiserweight or even heavyweight. Sweeney, Cleverly, McKenzie, Jonjo Finnegan, Sam Sexton, Coleman Barrett were names that came up in our conversation and opponents that Corbett is willing to face. The popular Belfast man has always had a big following and in his own words “provides entertainment”. Since, Corbett has not had a challenger for his belt in more than 13 years, will 2010 be the year when someone steps up to the plate to challenge Corbett for his Irish Cruiserweight Title? If so, there is a high probability that Irish fight fans will be served an entertaining spectacle from Belfast’s Raging Bull. What promoter wouldn’t want that on their show?

Article posted on 07.03.2010

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