Limerick’s second ever night of pro boxing will also feature the city’s second ever pro boxer. Hometown hero Andy Lee made history in Limerick in February by headlining the Ladbrokes.com Fight Night – the first time ever that a professional boxing event was staged in the city..
In the capacity crowd at the University Arena that night was a friend and former St. Francis clubmate of Lee’s, Jamie Power. On leaving the venue that night Power knew he just had to follow his fellow Shannonsider into the business often referred to as “show business with blood”.
Now Power will get to sample the atmosphere of a Ladbrokes.com Fight Night for himself when he takes to the ring at the University Arena on Saturday, July 19th.
Lee will headline the event as he looks to bounce back from the first defeat of his career with a win over American dangerman, Willie “The Gladiator” Gibbs while Power will look to make it two wins from two having enjoyed a successful pro debut in April.
A former Irish Intermediate Heavyweight champion, Irish International and New York Golden Gloves semi finalist Power admits that he has always had ambitions of a professional career.
“To be truthful if things had worked out I’d probably have turned pro back in 2004 when I was out in New York,” recalls Power. “Things were really going very well for me out there and I was sparring with some of the top professionals, world champs like Aaron “Superman” Davis and Lou Del Valle who fought Roy Jones.
“I had just won the quarter final in the Golden Gloves against a really tough guy called Reggie La Crete who’s now an unbeaten pro himself when I had to come back to Limerick because of a family emergency.
“That put my boxing on hold for a while and I put any thoughts of a pro career on the backburner but it stayed with me and when I went to see Andy fight at the University Arena in February I just knew I had to go for it or I’d regret it for the rest of my life.
“I’d just turned 27 so I knew I had to get the ball rolling and I put my head down and started training hard and I made my debut on the Bernard Dunne card in Castlebar in April.”
Befitting the location Power’s debut was by his own admission a wild west affair as he slugged it out with Leonid Dmitrichenko for the first round of his pro career before settling down in the second stanza and sending the Latvian to the canvas gulping for air courtesy of a series of crunching right hooks to the ribcage. Power was up and running while Dmitrichenko returned to Latvia with 2 broken ribs.
Looking back on the fight Power admits that he was over eager in his first outing. “The first round I went out there and I don’t know what got into me because I got into a free for all. I suppose I wanted to impress a bit too much and my technique went out the window.”
Power had left many an amateur foe in a heap thanks to his vaunted right hook but it was his right hand that did all the damage in Castlebar.
“I suppose the left hook is my pet punch alright but I learned a valuable lesson in my debut because I kept trying to land it and it wasn’t working for me. Then when I settled down a bit in the second round and relaxed I started to let the right go as well and eventually it was the right to the body that won the fight.”
A native of Limerick City’s Norwood Park, the 27 year old currently resides with his wife and two children in Caherconlish. When making the decision to turn pro he turned to Lee for advice. “Andy told me that if I was going to go professional I had to be willing to give it everything and dedicate myself to it. He told me there are no shortcuts in the pro business and at the end of the day that’s what it is, a business, so you have to make sure your in the best possible condition.”
With that in mind Power has gone into overdrive shedding over a stone and a half in the last two months alone. “I have a good team around me and they have been helping me prepare in the right way. One thing Andy stressed is that you have to live right and my wife Tracey has taken control over my diet. She monitors everything and she’s like a nutritionist to me at this point. So when your diet is right and your training as hard as I am these days the weight just drops off.
“In the amateurs I used to weigh in at heavyweight and I could get away with it because I had the power to compete at that weight and of course the rounds and distances are shorter. In the pro’s it’s a different ball game so I’m taking it very seriously now.”
Power however has to balance a punishing training regime with a full time job and admits it’s not easy. “It’s hard at times because with work and training I miss out on time with the kids but I’m not complaining because this is what I want to do and if I don’t put in the work I won’t get the results. My employers, Wurth, have been very good to me so I have to thank them for their support because they’ve been very good to me when I’ve needed to take time off to travel for sparring.”
Power believes that the hard work will all be worth it on July 19 when he steps between the ropes in his native city. “The buzz will be incredible walking to that ring. When I was in New York I always dreamed of fighting in Madison Square Garden but having been in the University Arena for Andy’s last fight I don’t think there is anywhere else in the world I’d rather fight.
“Andy has brought pro boxing to Limerick now and I’m determined to make the most of this opportunity. I just want to stay as busy as possible and get as many fights as I can. As long as I can keep winning opportunities will come my way and things will fall into place for me but for now I’m just taking it one fight at a time.”
Alonng with Any Lee in the headline bout Power will provide the local interest on the Ladbrokes.com Fight Night but the 8 bout card is packed with the best of the fighting Irish.
The chief support contest will feature the undefeated and highly rated Paul McCloskey as he takes on English Champion Nigel Wright.
Also in action is welterweight prospect Stephen Haughian from Lurgan, Galway’s John O’Donnell, former Lee opponent, Jason McKay, Castlebar puncher Keith Cresham and the pro debut of Canadian – Irishman Logan McGuinness.
Tickets for the Ladbrokes.com Fight Night priced from €60 are available from Ticketmaster.ie, Empire Music on O’Connell St and all usual outlets.