On February 1, in the prestigious La Salles des Etoiles at the sporting Monte Carlo, Dean ‘Irish Lightning’ Byrne comes up against unbeaten Russian, Roman ‘The Lion’ Belaev. The pair will battle it out for the vacant WBA Inter-Continental welterweight title.
Headlining this special event is Kazakhstan’s rising-star, Gennady ‘GGG’ Golovkin (28-0-0, 25 KO’s). He will be making the tenth defence of his WBA World middleweight title against Ghanian, Osumanu Adama (22-3-0, 16 KO’s).
Byrne, 17(6)-2(1)-1, is a fighter who is known for taking fights at short notice and in December 2012, at London’s Olympia, the 29-year-old Crumlin native was given the chance of a lifetime when he met the tough and experienced, Carson Jones.
Byrne was given just three days notice to fight Jones after original opponent, Lee Purdy, withdrew after contracting a virus. The Dubliner was given little hope of beating the American but he held Jones to a draw after eight rounds. The fight was clouded in controversy, though, as many in the boxing world believed Byrne deserved to get the decision. Despite this, Byrne’s stock rose after his performance and he was feeling optimistic with 2013 just around the corner.
Byrne made a successful start to life under new promoter, Mickey Helliet, in July after beating novice Danny Little over six rounds at the Camden Centre, Kings Cross, London, but it was Byrne’s only ring appearance of 2013. ‘Irish Lightning’ is the optimistic type, though, and now has this massive opportunity to showcase his skills which could land him a recognised title, and with it doors could open to bigger challenges in the near future.
Roman Belaev is Byrne’s opponent on fight night. He was born in Russia, but now resides in Germany. Belaev has a record of 12(10)-0-0 and is only 23 years of age. This is the Russian’s chance to make a name for himself and show the general boxing vicinity what he is capable of, because many boxing fans will not know of him.
Also featuring on the undercard is St Helens’ Martin Murray (26-1-0, 11 KO’s). He will face Australian, Jarrod Fletcher (17-1-0, 10 KO’s), for the interim WBA World middleweight title. If Murray prevails, a potential mega-fight with Gennady Golovkin could come to fruition.
Nathan Cleverly (26-1-0, 12 KO’s), returns to action at cruiserweight following his first career defeat to the big punching Russian, Sergey Kovalev. Welshman Cleverly faces Congo’s Ilunga Makabu (15-1-0, 14 KO’s), over 10 rounds. Makabu has punching power so this is a stern test to see how Cleverly’s chin will hold up at the higher weight class.
Sheffield’s Adam Etches (15-0-0, 12 KO’s), comes up against a tough Italian in Salvatore Annunziata (16-7-5, 3 KO’s). Etches is only 22 and he is aiming to prove that he is one of Britain’s top middleweight prospects. He will be aiming to start off 2014 in style and hope to land a shot at a domestic title later this year.