Purse but no crown at stake in Lee-Quillin fight

Peter Quillin must be kicking himself for scoffing that last tempting slice of strawberry cheesecake when he just knew he shouldn’t, but hey, we’ve all done it, right?

We’ve all been in training for a world title fight and somehow managed to overshoot the weight limit by a pound and a half, haven’t we?  The last time I trained for a world title fight, my coach said, Just do your best and go easy on the chips because that’s how modern training methods work.   Close your eyes and hope for the best.

Science?  Ha!

What an interesting situation it was, with Quillin challenging Lee for the world title, and then turning up just a fraction too fat.  Not fat, admittedly, by the standards of the people who’ll attend the fight, as anyone who’s been to these things will tell you, but still overweight.  A pound and a half overweight, which doesn’t seem like a lot.  If I was a pound and a half overweight I’d be celebrating with cakes, beer and burgers, but I’m not an elite athlete and neither are you, in all likelihood.

This sport has rules, including the requirement to weigh in and meet the standard, because boxing is based on, of all things, weights.  Who knew?  Was nobody around to remind Peter Quillin that he had a fight coming up and that maybe it would be a good plan to stay away from the pies until after he got on the scales?  Apparently not, and the result is that he won’t get a shot at the title, although he still gets to fight Andy.

Now, in my estimation, Andy Lee is a true sportsman who will do his best in the contest with Quillin.  A lesser man might decide to take a shot to the jaw and drop in the second round, since he’d still collect his purse and still be the Champ, but Andy isn’t made of that sort of stuff. He’ll defend his honour and his pride right to the end.

On the other hand, even if the fight goes the distance, and even if Quillin wins, it will make no difference, since he threw away the chance of taking the belt by scoffing too much strawberry cheesecake and too many deep-fried salted fatfukkers.

What a strange situation.  I don’t know how the purse works out after Quillin’s unfortunate lapse, but it seems obvious that Andy should get whatever was agreed, since he had no part in the ridiculous collapse of the title fight.

Andy met his side of the bargain.  Quillin didn’t.  What else is there to say?


Boxing Ramble

The last few weeks have been less than glorious for Irish southpaws challenging for World titles on both sides of the Atlantic.  Even Andy Lee had to rely on a last gasp effort to subdue Scottish puncher Craig McKeown, who was ahead on points in the final frame of their non-title clash at the Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut before Lee hit the jackpot and KO’d the Edinburgh-born middleweight with a left hook forged in the St Francis club in Limerick.

Incidentally, how was copper wire invented? Two Scots found a penny.

If in doubt, knock him out they say, although another victory like that, and Lee, who admitted that he had to pull it out of the fire, will be done for to paraphrase a famous general.  There was no such luck for his fellow Limerick and Irish left-handers Willie “Big Bang” Casey or Brian Magee however. Casey was dismantled inside one round by Cuba’s Guillermo (El Chacal, The Jackal) Rigondeaux, the defending WBA super-bantamweight champ, and Ulster’s Brian Magee was stopped in the 10th round by defending IBF super-middleweight champ Lucian Bute in Montreal.  You bute you.

Next up is unbeaten Derry-born southpaw Paul McCloskey, nicknamed Dudey.  McCloskey, 31, meets defending WBA light-welterweight champ Amir Khan tomorrow night at the MEN Arena in Manchester.  Dudey, despite the fact that he is the European champion, has been completely written off by the Irish bookies, who have him out at 6/1 as opposed to Khan’s 1/12 on. Khan’s purse took a major hit this week when Sky Box Office announced that they wouldn’t be showing the fight, that it would be broadcast live on the minor pay-per-view Primetime. Likewise, Khan’s purse plummeted from a reported £1.2 million to about a quarter of a million. It is understood that Dudey will trouser £150,000. Khan’s people say they are outraged by Sky’s decision, but McCloskey’s camp say he doesn’t give a rat’s ass about the money, that their man is in the zone and ready for battle.

Meanwhile, back to the Casey and Rigondeaux duel. Some claim that Cork’s Gary Hyde provided the speedboat for Rigondeaux for his dramatic escape from Cuba. Under the moonlight, the serious moonlight, El Chacal did a runner from Havana a few years back. He was supposed to go to Cork, but for some reason he settled in Miami.  It’s a difficult choice isn’t it? On the one hand you have Leeside –  and then there’s Florida.  Such a dilemma and life being so brutally short.  Anyway, the two-time Olympic champ was in in Thomond Park  for a press conference to promote his fight with Casey, the 2010 European super-bantamweight champ, who relinquished the continental strap to challenge the two-time Olympic champion for his WBA super-bantamweight crown, acquired on a split decision over Ricard Cordobain Texas a few months prior to his visit to the Treaty City.

The home of Munster rugby housed two former European champs on the day. Rigondeaux, or Rigo, as Hyde, who had to go to court in Miami to retain his services after a rival promoter tried to get in on the act, affectionately refers to the charismatic Santiago de Cuba native, was very impressed by Thomond Park and was taking pictures of the venue.

“I heard that Munster and the All Darks are the best in world,” says he, speaking through an interpreter.

“That’s correct and in that order. The  All Blacks actually.”

“And what about Leinster?”

“Leinster are a British side.”


His interpreter explains that he had been corrected about the All Darks. Rigo grins menacingly. All his upper teeth are capped with gold. If a man whose waist is adorned with a WBA belt says they’re the All Darks then they’re the All  Darks – unless you’ve developed a sudden taste for intensive care units.

“Has he ever fought a Traveller,” asks an eejit from the back of the audience when the press Conference commences.

“No, but he has won two Olympic gold medals, two AIBA World titles, Pan American gold and seven Cuban titles before winning the WBA after just seven pro fights,” replies a hack.

“Who’s fucking asking you.”

“Lads, leave the questions to the press will you.”

Rigo goes into a monologue about his career and his plans for the future.  Casey, from Southill in Limerick, reiterates his belief that Rigo is a one-trick pony, that he’ll be in his face.  The Limerick southpaw, a Traveller, is taking a leaf out of Jack Charton’s book and is planning to put him under pressure when they meet at the Citywest in Dublin. But Casey was made eat his words as Rigo stopped him in the first round.  The opening exchanges were civilised enough, but once Rigo drove a left into Casey’s ribs after about a minute it was the beginning of the end for the Shannonsider. Rigo’s footwork is also amazing. He’s sliding in, not unlike the moonwalk perfected by Michael Jackson, the people’s peadophile, and is sitting down on his punches. He’s also extremely hard to hit, the type of boxer that looks elusive even when he’s standing still. His second last opponent before his engagement in Dublin was flaking away hammer and thongs at a point which Rigo had vacated about half a second previously, and when he turned around to face his foe he was left occupying a large area of floor space after being felled with a left hook.

Back at the Citywest, Rigo’s body shots are forcing Casey to drop his elbows to protect his rib cage – an open invitation to go for the head. Rigo obliges. A few seconds later the ref steps in and takes Casey into protective custody after he wilts under a barrage of combinations. Casey’s Rocky Balboa-like rise to stardom ends 22 seconds from the sanctuary of the bell for the end of the first.

He admits after the fight that he was hurt by the shot to the ribs early in the opening frame, the only frame. Still, it was a brave challenge from the Shannonsider. And he can always say that he had a shot at a World title. He was a contender.

But back to the Press Conference in Thomond Park. Rigondeaux tells a tale which should serve as a sobering reminder to those of us who might be inclined to be lyrical about Castro and his pathetic Marxist fiefdom. In 2007, at the Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro , Rigo, and fellow pugilist Erislandy Lara,  did a runner and defected. However, they stopped running too soon and were arrested by Brazilian police and put on the first flight back to Havana. Another Cuban athlete was collared in a whorehouse in Rio, all shagged out. He was also frog-marched to the airport. Back on the Caribbean archipelago, Uncle Fidel wasn’t amused and, comparing defectors to soldiers deserting their comrades in battle, bans the entire boxing team from the 2007 World Championships and first Olympic qualifier in Chicago. Rigo – who was once presented with the keys of a new car by Castro in recognition of his incredible sporting achievements – was singled out and booted off the Cuban team for the 29th Olympiad in Beijing, where he would almost certainly have won his third Olympic gold on the trot. He no longer had a future, just a glorious past.

Shunned in his home town his career appeared to be in tatters –  until a man from Cork provided the means for his escape. But his second defection came at a price as he had to leave his partner, Farah Colina, and nine-year-old son behind. Rigo spoke lovingly of his other half and son in Thomond Park, his voice subdued from its normal up-tempo patter.  He suddenly stopped talking after saying that he didn’t want to say anymore because of the “political situation back home”. Casey expressed his heartfelt wish that one day his opponent will be reunited with his family.  Rigo’s interpreter relays Casey’s sentiments. The combatants share a nod and a smile.

Some thing’s are a lot bigger than WBA super-bantamweight titles. However, the bottom line is that, in the 21st century, Guillermo Rigondeaux, who some believe is the greatest pound-for-pound amateur boxer of all time,  had to sneak out of his own country like a thief in the night to pursue fame and fortune in his chosen trade, leaving his loved ones behind to fend for themselves.  He can never set foot in his homeland again and his partner and child cannot legally leave. Rigondeaux’s tale should serve as a reminder of the freedoms we take for granted. For whether O’Gara fired over a last minute penalty or not, or whether Messi completes a hat-trick or McCloskey has the last laugh at the Irish bookies, the unpatriotic swine,  and triumphs in Manchester, are really matters of profound indifference, existential distractions.

Bill Shankly once said that football wasn’t a matter of life and death that it was much more important than that. Sorry, it isn’t Bill. It’s just a game. Having said that, fingers crossed that Dudey triumphs in Manchester tomorrow. Amir is without  doubt a class act and he’ll try to blow McCloskey away from theopening  bell. But if the three-time Irish Elite champ can survive the opening onslaught and take the Bolton fighter down into the wilderness rounds then he’s right in there with a shout. McCloskey has waited his entire life for this shot and he’s going to leave everything in the squared circle tomorrow night. Can Dudey do the business? Yes He Khan.


Andy Lee Wins Joke Fight

What exactly was that?

One second, we were looking at a rather dull boxing match on TV, and the next second it was over.

Mamadou Thiam, Andy Lee’s opponent, had given up after two rounds.

Andy was laughing while the rest of us stared at our screens in disbelief.

What the fuck are we looking at?

Is this a joke?


Andy Lee Beats Affif Belghecham

I asked a photographer friend where the best place would be to take pics of the  fight and he said, You have two choices. You can go up on the balcony or you can go to the ringside.

What’s the difference?

003Well, you’ll get better shots at the ringside, but you’ll also get covered in blood and sweat.

The balcony wins.

I never saw armed cops at a sporting event before, but here they are. Three burly guys with chequered baseball caps, bulletproof jackets and snug little firearms resting on their waistbands ready to plug anyone causing trouble.

What?  I didn’t know boxing was so dangerous.

But then I realise the cops are just like me: they’ve managed to talk their way past the security and grab a place  overlooking the ring.   They’re not here for a firefight. They’re just here to see the fight.

It’s a strange atmosphere to me, because I’ve never been at a live boxing match before.  Not even an amateur one.  Not even a schoolboy fight.  I’ve never been to a real fight, though in my defence, I have seen Raging 001Bull, and all the Rocky movies and On The Waterfront.


No, I didn’t think so either.

The French guy seems like a nice enough sort, and Andy is his usual smiling self as he strides into the ring.  You wonder why these two lads want to batter the shit out of each other.  They both look like the sort of fellas who’d never, ever start trouble in a bar or get into a street fight, but that’s the 029paradox of boxing I suppose.  Guys who fight in the ring understand respect and for the most part don’t let themselves down when they’re outside the ring.

But what do I know?  To be honest with you, I feel like a bit of a cheat. I’m not sure what I’m looking at but I don’t want to seem stupid so I say nothing to the people around me, which is probably just as well, since they’re all Russian, or else they’re armed police.

023To my untutored eye, this French lad doesn’t seem to be trying very hard.  He spends the first eight rounds shuffling around the ring while Andy tries to hit him.  He doesn’t hit back until round nine and I haven’t the slightest idea who’s landing the better punches.  As round 10 approaches, I have to text Mr Out, who’s elsewhere in the arena.

Who’s winning?

I don’t know, you see.  It could be Andy or it could be the French guy.  I just don’t know.

Lee, comes the terse reply, and so it turns out.

Wrinkly Paddy is texting me as well.  He needs to knock this bum out to attract the big Yankee bucks.

I’m not his fuckin coach, I reply.  Will I tell him what you said?

He knows, comes Paddy’s answer, and I’m sure he does.  Since I know nothing about this sport, I’m not exactly qualified to disagree.

Belghecham wakes up in Round 9, when his coach reminds him that he might lose his money if he doesn’t at least pretend to fight, and he comes out of his corner swinging punches, but it doesn’t last.  After a few seconds, he lapses back into his crab-impression, and the fight grinds on inexorably to its conclusion.

This, I’m learning, is not destined to be a classic bout.  It isn’t even a meat-grinder.  This is run-of-the-mill pugilism with two guys doing a day-job.  Not good.  I’d be bored if I wasn’t trying to get a good picture.

Anyway, as it turns out, Andy wins on points which is good, but he doesn’t knock out the French guy, so he’ll have to wait for the big Yankee bucks, I suppose.

Here’s a few pics.

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Lee Belghecham Weigh In

It was Mister Out on the phone.  Come on down to the George, he said.  Have a look at the weigh-in.

006The weigh-in? I was a little taken aback.  The weigh-in?  Is that where they take off all their clothes and shout obscenities at each other?

No, he said.  You’re thinking of a night club.  This is where the two boxers get weighed to make sure neither of them is overweight.

Oh, I’d say these guys are very fit, I told him.  I wouldn’t imagine they’re overweight.

Jesus, I could hear him mutter under his breath.  Look, just come to the George.  You’ll be glad you did.

Will it be full of East-end spivs and Cockney wide-boys?

It will, he said in the voice grown-ups use for particularly stupid children.

I thought the place would be full of fat sweaty men wearing braces and broad-brimmed hats covered in bookie-slips, but it wasn’t.  It was full of purposeful-looking men of every age from teens to seventies, all of them solid-looking, quiet, composed and very, very tough-looking.

For some reason, there are two uniformed cops here, and I can’t help thinking, Jesus, if a fight breaks out, those coppers would be well-advised to head for the door fast.

I also thought a weigh-in was someplace you couldn’t just walk into, but I was wrong about that too.  All around, in this very nice boutique hotel, lunchtime patrons were eating, chatting, reading their papers and ignoring the media scrum in the restaurant area overlooking the street.

007Where were all the grizzled old coaches?  Where was Mickey Goldmill?  Where was Charlie Goldman?  Andy’s coach, for some reason, isn’t a  limping, cigar-chewing old battler.  No.  Andy’s coach is Joey Gamache, a former two times world champ at super featherweight and lightweight, who could easily be mistaken for one of today’s fighters if it wasn’t for his beard.

My preconceptions are falling apart.

003The boxers emerge from the ctowd and line up obediently for the cameras.

Belghecham strips off and steps on the scales.  He’s shorter than Andy by maybe six inches, but stronger-looking.  Maybe Andy should keep this guy at arm’s length in the interests of health and safety.  Belghecham makes the weight. He mutters something to Andy, and neither of them look particularly aggressive.  004They’re just going to beat the shit out of each other tomorrow night, but that’s nothing personal.

Andy steps up with a grin, and he makes the weight too, so we’re all set.

They stand for a picture together, the stylised mock punch not very menacing.  They don’t bother to trade insults or threats.  These guys aren’t vicious like Tyson. They’re not even Chris Eubank.

005They stand around some more for the cameras, and then it’s over.  Andy wanders out to the lobby where he cheerfully signs posters of the fight.  Mr Out engages him in conversation and they both stroll off down the street.  What are they talking about?  Who knows?  Andy looks so relaxed, he could be discussing tomorrow night’s soccer match against the French.



Andy Lee vs Affif Belghecham, University of Limerick

CHEEKY French middleweight Affif Belghecham arrived in Limerick today and predicted that Irish boxing and soccer fans would be singing Les Bleus on Saturday.

Belghecham, the current EU and French champ, says, get this, that himself and the French football team are on a different level to Paddy the boxer and Paddy the soccer player !

Deport all French men out of the country. Take away their cheese and their wine.

Belghecham and Lee meet in a battle of the southpaws shortly after the final whistle has gone in Croke Park in Ireland’s massive World Cup Playoff encounter with the French.

With the match being shown live on the big screens in the University Sports Arena Belghecham believes that those in attendance will be in for double disappointment.

Le Frog said: The Irish people have proven that they are warriors over the years. You only have to look at their spirited performances on the rugby and football pitches and of course in the boxing ring but sport is about levels and I believe that unfortunately for the Irish both myself and the French footballers are on a different level to our opponents this weekend.

Belghecham won the French Middleweight title earlier this year to follow in the footsteps of French boxing legend Marcel Cerdan. The “Casablanca Clouter” won the French and European Middleweight crowns en route to becoming World Middleweight Champ in 1948.  Like Cerdan, Belghecham is of Algerian stock and he admits that Cerdan’s achievements are a source of great inspiration to him.

I am blessed to have two cultures and two countries in my heart – just like Marcel. It’s something that has shaped me and made me the warrior I am. Cerdan was a legend and one of the greatest fighters from any nation and any era.

Of course I would love to follow in his footsteps and even to hold the French Middleweight title that he once held is very special for me. To become World Champion would be a dream come true and I know that a win over Andy Lee will get me a step closer to realising that dream.

Despite his confidence the visitor says he has plenty of respect for Lee’s undoubted talents: I have watched Lee and it’s easy to see why everyone is so excited about him in Ireland. He has tremendous potential but I think this fight has come too soon for him and my championship experience will prove the difference on Saturday night.

Doors open at the University Arena from 6pm with the first bout at 7:20. Fans wishing to catch all the action from the crucial World Cup play off from Croke Park between Ireland and France will also be catered for with the game shown live on the big screens at the arena on what promises to be a massive night of sport in Limerick.

RTÉ TWO’s live coverage of the event begins at 10:30 directly after their broadcast from Croke Park. Tickets for the Yanjing Fight Night priced from €40 are available from Ticketmaster (phone 0818 719 300 or visit, The George Boutique Hotel in Limerick and all usual outlets.


Boxing News

Watching Britain’s David Haye holding the WBA World heavyweight title aloft last weekend I was reminded of a piece the great boxing scribe Hugh McIlvanney penned on roughly the same subject.

McIlvanney wrote that most Americans look on a British fighter whose waist happens to be adorned with a World heavyweight belt as a cultural contradiction.

At first they react with shock, then bemusement – the way you’d react to an Amazonian Indian with an ice skating medal – then resignation, followed by a deep sigh.  London-born Haye claimed the WBA crown with a majority points win over lumbering Russian giant Nikolai  Valuev in Nuremburg, Germany last Saturday.

The British media went ape, David slaying Goliath etc etc.

Having lost the will to live half way through the fight I can’t really give any breakdown on the spectacular absence of any discernable talent of either combatant, although it was clear from the opening bell up that, Valuev, nicknamed, The Beast from the East, is an acute embarrassment, and Haye wouldn’t punch snow off a rope.

Promoter Frank Warren said after the debacle, which was described by James Lawton as the absolute nadir of pugilism, that Valuev leaves a lot to be desired  as a fighter.

No-one can tell me Valuev is a quality heavyweight. He is not even an average heavyweight. People talk about Valuev as though he is something special. He is probably one of the worst heavyweights ever seen.

Valuev – all he’s missing is a bolt through his neck – would remind you of those old movies. He’s the monster, stalking after you, slowly, hands outstretched, grrrrrrrrrrr, shifting one foot after another with menacing intent, grrrrrrrrrrrrr.

A maiden is running away into the forest, shrieking, as they do. But Valuev still manages to catch up with her despite the fact that he’s merely walking and she’s breaking the world 200m record.  How does he do it?

But just as the monster is about to do something unspeakable to our comely maiden – and we’re all in favour of maidens coming round these parts – he hears a violin playing from deep within the forest.  Hark! Why it’s a blind man with a long white beard, charming the birds out of the trees with his virtuosity.

So Valuev – in this particular movie there were Pyramids in the background for some reason – drops the shrieking maiden, ambles off and throttles Transylvanian  Stevie Wonder instead. Very superstitious, hieroglyphics on the wall etc.

Meanwhile, Haye and Value are an affront to a Division that was once dominated by Gladiators such as Jack Dempsey, Muhammad Ali, Smokin’ Joe Frazier and Mike Tyson .  I reckon that any one of the above quartet would have beaten Haye and Valuev at the same time. The great Irish/Cherokee warrior Dempsey would have buried both of them in a heart beat.

Ali would have danced around them for a round or two – looking good – before felling both with the same punch and Frazier would have just eaten them without salt.

And as for Tyson.  Putting him into the squared circle with these two frauds would be the equivalent of unleashing a Velociraptor in a Bingo Hall.

Not that you’ll be reading any of this in the British media this week of course. The Brits lose all objectivity when it comes to the heavyweight title, but maybe we shouldn’t begrudge them their flights of fancy, as leaving aside Frank Bruno, who was demolished by Tyson, and Lennox Lewis, who is Canadian, they haven’t exactly set the division alight over the last 120 years.

Before Lewis, the only heavyweight champ that our near neighbours can lay claim to was Bob Fitzsimmons, who won the heavyweight title in Carson City in 1897 after out-gunning James J. Corbett.  Doc Holliday was probably the promoter – Billy the Kid providing the security.

Then there was Phil Scott in the 1930s. The Yanks nicknamed Phil, “Phaintin Phil” because he won six of his fights on disqualifications after going down clutching his groin and conning the ref into believing that he was hit below the belt.

However, Phil fondled his balls once too often and when he was really hit below the belt by Jack Sharkey in the late 30s the foul went unpunished and Phil was removed from the ring on a stretcher, clutching the family jewels, objecting – in a very high pitched voice.

Welsh heavyweight Tommy Farr meanwhile, did go the distance with Joe Louis in 1937 and Henry Cooper dropped Ali with a stunning left hook once. But both men were comprehensively beaten in those fights.

But that’s about it folks. Hence the Americans’ view of Britain as a classical breeding ground for heavyweights whose only career objective, after crossing the Atlantic, is to occupy large areas of floor space after being KO’d.

Meanwhile, former World champ Joey Gamache has offered Haye a piece of career advice – avoid the Klitschko brothers.

Haye is planning two defences in London next year.

One could be against mandatory challenger John Ruiz, who is to all intents and purposes worse than Valuev,  and talks are taking place to meet one of Klitschko brothers, Vitali, the WBC champ, who has already vowed to knock Haye out, or Wladimir, at Wembley in 2010.

However, Gamache, who was helping put Andy Lee through his paces in a media work-out at the Limerick Institute of Technology (LIT) yesterday, reckons Haye should stay away from the Ukrainian brothers.

Gamache, who won World titles at two different weights, will be working Lee’s corner along with Lee’s brother Roger and Javan Hill when he meets French middleweight Affif Belghecham at the University of Limerick (UL) next Saturday.

He said: If I was one of the Klitschko’s I’d be smiling at this one. I wasn’t impressed with David Haye at all last Saturday. I believe he should avoid both Klitschko brothers to tell the truth.

Wladimir is a much busier fighter than Valuev. Valuev got some of the fundamentals right against Haye last Saturday but it was a very poor fight and I just wasn’t impressed with either of them.

Meanwhile, Lee, who regularly spars and trains with Wladimir Klitschko, looked very sharp in four rounds of pad work with Gamache and his brother Roger in front of about 400 LIT students.

And the 2004 Irish Olympian, who fights out of the Detroit Kronk, says that he has no problem facing a fellow southpaw in his hometown next weekend.

He said: The best knock out of my career came against Carl Daniels at Madison Square Garden and he’s a southpaw so I don’t see any problem in fighting a southpaw at all.   In my amateur days I came up against all styles of opponents and that was a great learning experience for me that helped me to adapt to all styles of opponents.

It’s going to be a very tough fight on Saturday. I’m under no illusion about that. Belghecham will come to fight and I have no doubt that I will have my work cut out.

Gamache agrees that the French fighter’s southpaw stance won’t cause any undue problem, but he reckons he’ll raise his game in the Treaty City.

He added: Andy’s got a tremendous amount of sparring and training with southpaws under his belt in New York over the last few weeks and he’ll be ready for the big fight.

We trained in Manhattan and we trained in the Bronx and he’s in fantastic shape for his third fight in his home town. We all love coming back to Limerick because we always get a fantastic reception.

I believe that Belghecham will rise to the occasion on Saturday. He a tough caliber opponent and he’s also the European Union champion, that’s a solid combination.   Everyone raises their fight against Andy these days because they know who they are in against. Andy is well able to cope with that though, he’s used to it.

This is a big, big night for Andy, make no mistake about it. He can move right up the rankings with a win on Saturday.

Meantime, as a footnote, the most ominous cackle in pro boxing was heard last Saturday as Haye stuttered to his win over Valuev.   Take a bow Don King. The former inmate NO 125734 of a Correctional Facility in Marion, Ohio, where he was serving time on a manslaughter rap, is back in business.

Will Don exploit the present state of anarchy in the heavyweight division and grab himself a fistful of dollars going out the door?

Is the Pope a German?


Choose The Walk-In Tune For Andy Lee vs Belghecham

ANDY Lee wants Irish fight fans to suggest a walk-in tune for his next fight at the University of Limerick (UL).   Lee meets French middleweight Affif Belghecham, the current European Union champ, in a battle of the southpaws in his home town on Saturday November 14.   The former Irish Olympian is winding down his training for the clash at the Fight House gym in Manhattan, New York, this week and will arrive in Limerick next Saturday.

Lee, 25, used Phil Collins’s  In the Air Tonight – with the emphasis on the drum break – as his walk in music for his last fight at UL.   However, the Limerickman exclusively told Bock the Robber that he can be persuaded to change his tune and says he’ll take your suggestions on board ahead of the 21st fight of his pro career.

Meanwhile, promoter Brian Peters has assured sports fans planning to attend UL for the fight that they won’t miss the crucial Ireland versus France World Cup play-off match at Croke Park on the same night.

The Yanjing Fight Night at the University Arena in Limerick on Saturday, November 14th is shaping up to be a huge night of live sport for the sports mad city. Not only will fight fans get to see Lee taking on reigning European Union and French Champion Affif Belghecham but they will also get their sporting kicks when the crucial World Cup playoff match between Ireland and France is shown live in the big screens in the arena.

It won’t be the first time that a major match has clashed with a big fight night. Back in March fans at The O2 in Dublin got to watch Ireland win the Grand Slam on the big screens before Bernard Dunne capped a famous day for Irish sport by winning the World title with a sensational 11th-round stoppage of Ricardo Cordoba.

Fans in attendance at the University Arena on Saturday week will be hoping for a similar double as both the Irish soccer team and Lee attempt to topple the French. Promoter Brian Peters believes that the Ireland and France game will whet the appetite nicely for Lee’s clash with Belghecham.

With Limerick being such a sports mad city we didn’t want people having to choose between Andy’s fight and the Ireland match so the game will be live on the big screens so that people don’t miss out on any of the action, said Peters.

Hopefully it will be just like that Saturday back in March when Ireland won the Grand Slam and Bernard won the World title. I don’t think anyone who was at The O2 will ever forget that night so hopefully Andy and the Irish team can make it another night to remember on the 14th.

Other facilities in the University Arena will include a full bar and food court and Peters believes those in attendance are in for a great night out. We’ve taken on board feedback from previous shows in Limerick so for this event we will have a full bar and food court in place thanks to the support of our sponsors, Yanjing. The facilities really promise to be top class so it should be a night with a bit of everything and hopefully Andy can do the business to make sure everyone goes home happy.

Peters is under no illusions about the threat that Belghecham poses to Lee’s European and World title prospects.  It’s going to be a very hard night’s work for Andy, he admitted Peters.  Belghecham is rated ahead of him in both the World and the European ratings and he is the current European Union and French Champion so you cannot disregard that kind of pedigree. He’s a very capable fighter and he’s in the best form of his career right now but home advantage is always crucial and Andy will be a very hard man to beat in Limerick.

Limerick will have no shortage of local heroes to cheer on at the University Arena with city natives Jamie Power and Willie Casey also in action on the card. Tickets for the Yanjing Fight Night priced from €40 are available from Ticketmaster (phone 0818 719 300 or visit, The George Boutique Hotel in Limerick and all usual outlets.


Boxing Nickname Shortage

What is it with Limerick pro boxers and their avoidance of nicknames?

Jamie Power, a former stable-mate of Andy Lee’s at the St Francis club in Limerick, stretched his unbeaten run to six after Lithuanian light heavyweight Kirill Pshonko failed to answer the bell for the start of the fourth round at the National Basketball Arena in Dublin last night.

Jamie Power v Kirill Pshonko

Pshonko, nicknamed Pitbull, spent most of his time in the intervals between frames  throwing up into a bucket after being hit with the type of body shots that would have brought down the walls of King Johns Castle.

Jamie Power v Kirill Pshonko (1)

Power wobbled the Lithuanian with a body punch in the second frame which must have been felt all the way back in Vilnius. The Pitbull had his tail between his legs from that point on and declined to leave his stool at the end of the third, giving ref Emile Tiedt, a son of Fred Tiedt who won  welterweight silver for Ireland at the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne, no option but to stop the fight.

Jamie Power v Kirill Pshonko (2)

Power has no nickname – and neither has Lee, although an “informed source” tells me Lee’s manager Emanuel Stewart, who was trained and managed over 30 World champs, including Thomas “the hit man” Hearns, (now there’s a nickname), is referring to the ex Irish Olympian as “sharpshooter.”

Lads, we need nicknames here, particularly if you, to use Limerick vernacular, continue to “bate” all round you  on the international circuit.

Here is a sample of some of the more colourful boxing nicknames: Bernard “The Executioner” Hopkins. (Roberto “Manos de Piedra/Hands of Stone” Duran.  James “Lights Out” Toney. Juan “The Hispanic Causing Panic” Lazcano. Michael “Second to” Nunn. Mike “The Body Snatcher” McCallum. Jermaine “Bad Intentions” Taylor and, last but not least,  The Count of Monte Fisto (Apollo Creed).

Good solid nicknames there lads. So about it? Meanwhile, congratulations to Jamie and backroom team of Ken, Finbar and Mario on another impressive win last night.

The victory stretches the 28-year-old Limerick boxer’s career record to a half dozen unbowed and improves his KO percentage to 50%.

Power was trading leather on the Eddie Hyland and Oisin “Gael Force” Fagan undercard at the Basketball Arena. Hyland, with Bernardo Checa, who once worked with Roberto Duran, working his corner, earned a unanimous decision to claim the vacant IBF International super featherweight crown.

Hyland’s brother, Patrick, also claimed a vacant IBF belt, while a third Hyland brother, Paul, won along with Cork’s Gary O’Sullivan,Robbie Long and Anthony Fitzgerald.

Power and Lee are Limerick’s only two pro boxers. Both men learned their trade as amateurs with the St Francis club on Shannonside.  Power is an ex Irish Intermediate champ and New York Golden Gloves semi finalist.