Hunky Dorys Fight Night: Coleman Barrett; Paul McCloksey; Andy Murray; Brendan Fitzpatrick

Irish Heavyweight Champion Coleman Barrett has thrown down the gauntlet to any prospective challengers and says he wants to be a busy champion. Barrett certainly has a busy schedule ahead of him having been added to the Hunky Dorys Fight Night at The National Stadium, Dublin on Saturday, September 11. Barrett will feature in a non title contest on the card which features a European title double header with Belfast’s Brian Magee defending his European Super Middleweight crown against Roman Aramian while Kiko “La Sensación” Martinez also returns to Dublin as he bids to recapture the European Super Bantamweight crown against Arsen Martirosyan..

Should he come through that assignment then Barrett will make a quick return to action on Saturday, October 2nd on the Hunky Dorys Fight Night at The Aura, Letterkenny when Paul McCloskey tops the bill as he defends his European Light Welterweight title against Scotland’s Barry Morrison.

Barrett though is keen for more Irish title action having won the vacant belt back in February when he got up off the floor to outpoint Colin Kenna. “I was happy with the result obviously and very proud to lift the Irish title but I wasn’t one bit happy with my performance against Kenna,” revealed the Galway southpaw.

“My defence was rubbish and I made a lot of mistakes in that fight but aside from the knockdown in the second round I won it fairly comfortably but I know I’m capable of a lot better than that. A busy fighter is a happy fighter and these fights in Dublin and Letterkenny will give me an opportunity to show some of the things I have been working on in the gym. I’ve been getting some good sparring in with John McDermott for this fight in Dublin so I feel sharp and ready to go.”

Beyond his next two fights Barrett is eyeing up possible Irish title defences against the likes of Belfast’s former Commonwealth Champ, Martin Rogan, Mike Tyson’s conqueror Kevin McBride and unbeaten duo Ian Tims and Declan Timlin.

“The Irish heavyweight scene was a bit of a ghost town for a while but things are definitely heating up again and I know there are quite a few guys out there eyeing up my title,” said Barrett. “Obviously Martin Rogan is due back from injury soon and it will be great to have him back on the scene and I wish him the best but I don’t want to sit around waiting when there are some good defences out there for me. I won’t be avoiding anyone, I’ll beat whoever is put in front of me and I want to keep the Irish title active because before I won it it hadn’t been fought for 13 years.”

High on Barrett’s list of target is the previous holder of the Irish title Kevin McBride who will return to action in the U.K. next month in the next Prizefighter event with the big man from Clones having campaigned exclusively in the U.S. for the last 12 years.

“Kevin’s back on the scene here now and I’m sure he’ll give the Prizefighter a good go,” said Barrett who reached a Prizefighter final himself in 2009 before losing out to Audley Harrison in what remains the only defeat of his career. “To be fair to Kevin he never lost the title in the ring so I’d have no problem giving him an opportunity. He’s a big, strong man and of course he made his name sending Mike Tyson into retirement so that would be a good fight for Irish boxing fans.

“I don’t care who I fight but I want to keep the title busy. I’m willing to defend it against anyone who is looking to challenge me for it be that Rogan, McBride or guys like Ian Tims and Declan Timlin. I want to clean up in Ireland and then take the next step forward onto European level but that’s all for the future. First things first is my fight on Saturday week in Dublin and then the fight in Letterkenny and hopefully they will sharpen me up but you can never look too far ahead in this game so I won’t be taking my eye off the ball.”

While Barrett won’t be defending his title on the Hunky Dorys Fight Night at The National Stadium there will be Irish title action as Dubliner’s Anthony Fitzgerald and Robbie Long square off in a highly anticipated rubber match with Fitzgerald’s Irish Super Middleweight title at stake.

The card also features the undefeated Cork based Cuban trio of Alexei Acosta, Luis Garcia and Mike Perez while reigning EU and Irish Super Bantamweight Champion Paul Hyland will also be in action as looks to press his claims for a shot at the winner of the Kiko Martinez – Arsen Martirosyan. Hyland’s fellow Dubliner’s Gavin Prunty and Brendan Fitzpatrick complete the card.

McCloskey takes to the roads to defend title

European Light Welterweight Champion Paul McCloksey is hard at work preparing for the second defence of his title on the Hunky Dorys Fight Night when he takes on Scotland’s Barry Morrison at The Aura in Letterkenny on Saturday, October 2nd.

However the undefeated southpaw has another title defence to take care of this Saturday (August 28th ) when he takes to the roads in the annual Dungiven 10k charity run. McCloskey was first past the finish line in last years event in a time of 38 minutes and he’s hoping to retain his title at the weekend with hundreds of other competitors expected to line up on the starting line.

The event is being organised by Eurospar Dungiven and will see three local charities benefitting with the proceeds going to Drumboghill Community Association, Glenshane Care and Hand’s That Talk.

The event is open to all comers with a number of professional athletes expected to compete while boxing will also be represented by members of Northern Ireland’s Commonwealth boxing team including team captain and European medallist, Eamon O’Kane and Belfast’s European Gold and Olympic Bronze medallist Paddy Barnes.

The race begins at 12 noon on Saturday and participants can register up until 11:45am on Saturday morning at Dungiven Community Hall. There will also be a shorter distance fun run and walk for those looking to enjoy the day at a more sedate pace with family entertainment including a BBQ, karaoke, bouncy castle, face painting and children’s entertainers in the grounds of Dungiven Castle until 5pm.

McCloskey will use the race as part of preparations in the build up to his title European title defence in Letterkenny on a bill that will also feature unbeaten Cavan star Andy Murray taking a step up in class as he takes on Johnny Nolasco from the Dominican Republic in an International ten round contest. The bill also features Dublin’s unbeaten featherweight prospect, Patrick Hyland, reigning Irish Heavyweight Champ, Coleman Barrett, Cork based Cuban sensations Alexei Acosta, Mike Perez and Luis Garcia, Mayo’s unbeaten Super Featherweight Finbarr Eade and the professional debut of Donegal’s own Michael McLoughlin.

Tickets for the Hunky Dorys Fight Night priced from €40 go on sale from 9am on Wednesday, September 1st from / 0818 719300, The Aura, Letterkenny: 074 9106422, The Radisson Blu, Letterkenny: 074 9194444, Eurospar, Dungiven: 028 77741245 or Julie, Dungiven: 07745 698372.

Nolasco promises to serve up first defeat for Andy Murray

European Champion Paul McCloskey and Cavan’s double Irish and former EU Champ Andy Murray share the top spot for the longest unbeaten runs in Irish professional boxing with both men sporting perfect 21-0 pro records stretching back to when they made their debuts at the Kings Hall, Belfast in March of 2005. Both men will be in action once again on the Hunky Dorys Fight Night at The Aura, Letterkenny on Saturday. October 2nd when McCloskey defends his title against Scotland’s Barry Morrison while in the chief support Murray will tackle Johnny Nolasco in a scheduled 10 rounder.

However Nolasco has warned Murray that he can expect his unbeaten run to be snapped when they clash in Letterkenny and the Dominican Republic dangerman believes that the Cavan fighter has bitten off more than he can chew on this occasion. “I don’t know anything about Murray except that he is unbeaten but the reason why he’s unbeaten is that he hasn’t fought anyone on my level yet,” claimed Nolasco. “I have been mixing it with the best out there all my career and I’ve ended guys unbeaten records before and that’s what I will be coming to Ireland to do again.”

Nolasco sports a record of 18 wins, 4 losses and 4 draws but on closer inspection his career ledger reveals that even when he has been beaten it has generally only been by world class operators and even then some of those losses have been contentious.

His manager Jose Lantigua explained, “We live in the era of fighters with impressive, padded records that when it comes down to it often don’t mean anything. Johnny did not have the luxury of that when he turned professional and he was constantly matched the hard way against up and coming prospects. His promoter back then put him against one tough guy after another but he still beat Arturo Quintero (10-0), Israel Perez (8-0), Mario Aguiniga (4-0),Gilberto Sanchez Leon (14-1-1), Ricardo Barajas (22-2-1) and Gabriel Vasquez (7-1). He drew with guys like Israel Perez (8-0), Jesus Vega (9-0-1), Cornelius Lock (9-1) and James Baker (11-1) in their hometowns when in most of those fights he should have been a clear winner.

“His defeats have been to good world class fighters like Steven Luevano, Martin Honorio, Jason Litzau and in the case of Honorio and Litzau those defeats were razor thin. People know who Johnny Nolasco is now because of those fights and to be honest it has been tough to get him work because nobody wants to fight him. We had a fight with Marco Antonio Barrera lined up last year for the WBO Lightweight title but even a legend like Barrera pulled out when he watched some tape on Johnny and realised what he was up against.”

Nolasco just turned 35 last month and he believes that the fight with Murray represents a final opportunity to fulfill the outstanding amateur potential that once saw him marked out as a future world professional champion. “I know that I need a win in this fight to get my career back on track,” admitted Nolasco. “These last few years have been very frustrating for me because I have had so much bad luck with big fights falling through for reasons totally outside my control. This is my chance to vindicate myself and prove that I still have what it takes to be up there with the best in the world so make no mistake I am coming over to Ireland for just one thing – to win. In almost 330 fights as an amateur and pro I have never once been on the canvas and believe me that will not change against Murray. “

Nolasco comes from a boxing family and was one of the Dominican Republic’s best ever amateurs compiling a phenomenal record of 288 wins from his 303 unpaid bouts en route to representing his country at the Olympics. “My family have been steeped in boxing for generations,” explained Nolasco. “My uncle Pedro Julio Nolasco won an medal at the 1984 Olympics and another uncle of mine, Livio Nolasco fought for the World title as a professional back in the 1970’s while my cousin Lucillo Nolasco was also a well known boxer. I have carried on the family tradition and I enjoyed an excellent amateur career. I went to the Atlanta Olympics in 1996 and I won medals at lots of big international competitions including a Silver medal at the Pan-American games.”

However a combination of inactivity, injury and bad luck has ensured that John Nolasco has been unable to capture a World title in the professional ranks although that dream looked within touching distance as recently as last year when he was slated to face Mexican legend Marco Antonio Barrera for the interim WBO Lightweight title.

“It makes me angry when I think back on all the bad luck I have had recently. I was supposed to fight Barrera for the title and that fell through, then I was scheduled to go to the Philippines to fight Jimrex Jaca and that fell through as well. I thought my luck was changing when I was matched up with the WBC number 3 Ali Chebah in June but again it fell through due to problems on his side. It’s been such a tough time for me and it’s made me mad as hell and it’s Andy Murray who will have to pay the price for that.”

Fitzpatrick ready to Rock at the National Stadium

Having made the decision to end his own ring career Dublin’s Jim Rock is now lending a helping hand to another Dubliner, Brendan Fitzpatrick as he prepares to make his pro debut on the Hunky Dorys Fight Night at the National Stadium on September 11th. The bill features a European title double header with Belfast’s Brian Magee defending his European Super Middleweight crown against Roman Aramian while Kiko “La Sensación” Martinez also returns to Dublin as he bids to recapture the European Super Bantamweight crown against Arsen Martirosyan.

Fitzpatrick will make his pro bow on the undercard having made the decision to install Rock and veteran Belfast trainer, John Breen as his co-managers and the man who was known as the “Pink Panther” during his own career says he will be happy to be watching the action from outside the ropes from now on.

“My days in the ring are numbered but it’s an exciting time for Brendan making his debut and I’m delighted to be involved with him,” said Rock who hung up his gloves having made history by winning Irish titles at 4 different weights. Rock will be working for RTÉ on the night in his role as expert analyst but he also hopes to be in Fitzpatrick’s corner as he bids to get his pro career off to a winning start.

“Brendan’s a tremendously dedicated lad. He’s already making the kind of sacrifices you need to be a success in the pro ranks and he’s living up in Belfast now from Monday to Friday. John’s been very happy with his progress to date and he seems to be adapting very well to the pro game.

“I’ve been very impressed with his attitude so far, there are no airs or graces about Brendan, he’s willing to put in the hard work in the gym and he’s entering the professional ranks very much under the radar. He wasn’t a big amateur star so there is no real pressure on him but I’m confident that he will do very well as a pro.

“I’m not going to make any bold predictions for him but there is a thriving domestic scene around the super middleweight and light heavyweight divisions right now and I’d like to see him get involved in that mix. There are some great fights out there for him in Ireland and I’m sure that whoever emerges as the leading light from that bunch can go on to make a name for themselves at European level.

“An obvious fight a little bit down the road would be between Brendan and Anthony Fitzgerald with two Dubliner’s going at it for the Irish Super Middleweight title. I’m a big fan of Anthony’s and I love his ‘fight anybody, anytime’ attitude so I see no reason why that can’t happen once Brendan get’s up and running in the pro ranks.”

Fitzpatrick boxed for the West Finglas club throughout his amateur days with the highlight of his unpaid career coming in February of last year when he stepped in at the last minute to take Kenny Egan’s place in a home international against the USA after the Olypmic medallist’s infamous no show for the event.

Despite the short notice Fitzpatrick thrilled the home crowd at the National Stadium that night with a come from behind victory to defeat Siju Shabazz by a single point. “That was a great experience,” recalled Fitzpatrick. “It was nip and tuck but I came from behind in the last round to win it and I know the crowd really enjoyed that one. It was short notice but I was over the moon to get the opportunity.”

However Fitzpatrick always fancied a crack at the professional ranks and he believes that the transition from the amateurs will be a relatively smooth one. “I talked it through with my amateur trainer Joe Vaughan and decided to give it a go. I know everybody says it when they turn professional but anyone who has seen me box will know that my style is better suited to the pro game. I like to get in there and have a fight and keep the crowd entertained.

“I’ve been working on little things with John Breen like using more head movement, slipping and rolling from punches and working on improving my jab and I already feel like I’ve learned an awful lot.

“Jim Rock’s been a great help and it’s great to have him on board as a co-manager with John Breen. Jim has good contacts in the game and good influence and I know that the main aim right now is to keep me busy so that I can get as much experience as possible but my first goal would be an Irish title and we will take it from there after that.”

There will be further Dublin interest on the Hunky Dorys Fight night at The National Stadium as reigning EU and Irish Super Bantamweight Champion Paul Hyland looks to press his claims for a shot at the winner of the Kiko Martinez – Arsen Martirosyan fight while Castleknock prospect Gavin Prunty is also in action alongside the undefeated Cork based Cuban trio of Alexei Acosta, Luis Garcia and Mike Perez.

Tickets for the Hunky Dorys Fight Night priced €40, €75 and €100 are available from / 0818 719300 or the National Stadium on 087 2511772, the Ticket Office on 086 8120135 or the boxers on the bill.