Patrick Hyland will return home to Dublin without the WBA title belt he came to Las Vegas for but he leaves the Nevada desert with his reputation very much enhanced after a points defeat to Javier Fortuna last night.
The two unbeaten fighters put their perfect records on the line at a sold out MGM Grand Garden Arena with the World Boxing Association (WBA) Interim Featherweight title at stake in a bout televised live in over 50 countries as part of the supporting card to the fourth instalment of the Juan Manuel Marquez – Manny Pacquiao rivalry. Marquez finally vanquished his great rival with a stunning sixth round KO after both men had been on the canvas earlier in the fight.
There were no knockdowns in the Hyland – Fortuna bout despite Fortuna’s reputation as a big hitter and one of boxing’s rising stars. However Hyland proved that he also belonged at world level by pushing the southpaw from the Dominican Republic all the way. All three judges scored the fight for Fortuna by margins of 115 – 113, 116 – 112 and 118 – 110 but Hyland’s performance made a mockery of his pre fight status as as a 10/1 underdog at the Las Vegas sports books.
However despite putting in a performance that exceeded most expectations the 29 year old Dubliner revealed his own disappointment after the fight. “I’m sorry for everyone back home that I won’t be bringing the World title belt back with me,” said Hyland. “A lot of fans made the long journey from Ireland to cheer me on in very hard economic times and I really appreciate that. It was great to hear their support in the arena and I know there was a few hundred supporters at home watching the fight live in the Kusanta Bar back in Tallaght. I’m really grateful for all the support I’ve had and it’s just made me more determined than ever to win a World title now because I think I proved that I belong at that level.
“A lot of people were predicting that I would be out of my depth against Fortuna and were tipping him to blow me away in a round or two. They obviously didn’t know me and I just found it pretty funny to be written off like that but I’m a stubborn Irishman and I think I proved a lot of people wrong. Fortuna was billed as the next big thing in boxing but I felt I burst his bubble in there. He had a reputation as a huge puncher but I can honestly say he never hurt me at any point and I think he was quite wary of my own power. He certainly wasn’t as reckless as he has been in all his other fights so I think he respected my power a lot more than his previous opponents.
“He’s a good boxer and he fought a very smart fight so I don’t really have any complaints with the result but I felt it was closer than some of the scorecards and there was very little in it at the finish. I was the one trying to force the fight. He was hard to pin down with clean shots but the longer the fight went the more comfortable I felt in there and the less comfortable he felt.”
Prior to a post fight visit to hospital to check on a possible injured shoulder Fortuna confirmed that the fight was much harder than anticipated. “I thought it would be easy but it was not,” said the new WBA interim champ. “I underestimated Hyland and had to work hard. It was complicated in there.”
Hyland says he wants to return to winning ways as soon as possible with the experience of fighting on boxing’s biggest stage having whetted his appetite for further big nights.
“I enjoyed the fight and the whole week here in Las Vegas has been an incredible experience and I have learned so much from it,” said Hyland. “From press conferences with 50 Cent and having Mike Tyson support me at the weigh and then having Mitt Romney ringside watching the fight and of course Snooki supporting me as my promoter. It’s all been pretty surreal for a lad from Jobstown but it’s just given me a taste for more big fights and I want to get back in there as soon as possible and get back to winning ways.
“That’s my first defeat in 28 fights and I hate to lose but I want to get right back in there again at top level and get back to winning ways. If Fortuna wants it then I’d love a rematch or else a match up with some of the other top featherweights out there like the IBF champ Billy Dib or the winner of the upcoming WBO title fight between Orlando Salido and Mikey Garcia.”