By John Hargate
York Hall - Dean Byrne has fought in Australia, Ireland and America on his travels and made his British debut on Friday at the York Hall against tough journeyman Michael Frontin in an eight-rounder that the Irishman won 78-74 on referee Ian John-Lewis’ scorecard.
Byrne, 27 and now 15-0 (6), took the fight to Frontin from the off. Working behind a high guard and a busy jab ‘Irish Lightning’ claimed the centre of the ring from the off and forced Frontin to retreat with a series of spiteful shots. In the fourth, Frontin landed a big right hook of his own that sent spray flying but Byrne took it well and resumed his attack.
Three big uppercuts rocked Byrne’s head back in the fifth, one of which may have opened the cut that appeared above the Irishman’s right eye. Despite the blood, Byrne kept up a high pace and became more and more dominant as the bout drew to a close.
In his dressing room after the fight, Byrne told BoxingScene his remarkable story. Saying, “I turned professional in Australia with the help of Johnny Lewis [who has trained Kostya Tszyu, Jeff Harding and Jeff Fenech amongst others] after he saw me fighting as an amateur and asked me to turn professional. [I] started off straight away doing six rounds and moved up and fought a ten rounder for the Australian [light-welterweight] title in my fifth fight.
“In my seventh fight I fought for a continental title and I thought I was stepping too quickly into the deep so I left in search of more experience. I went to America, found Freddie Roach - he found me, I found him - and we clicked straight away and I ended up sparring Manny Pacquiao for the [second Juan Manuel] Marquez fight.
“I’ve learned from the greatest in each country I’ve been to and now I’m home in the UK. I’m going to call this my home because it’s where my son was born.”
Byrne is now based in Manchester and currently trained by Anthony Farnell. Despite having fought in Las Vegas and a whole host of other places, Byrne still took time to praise Britain’s famous old venue.
“I’ve had my first fight in the York Hall - legends have fought here - and I hope to move on in the future and hopefully become a legend myself. The atmosphere is electric. It’s really great. There’s nothing like fighting at the York Hall, it’s the best.”
“[There’s] a big difference from fighting [with 8oz gloves] to when you’re sparring so you have to be really mentally and physically prepared and like [matchmaker] Dean Powell said, I really focused and that was part of how good [the fight] went.”
“After that performance people can see I haven’t fought in a year and need to be busy so in order for ‘Irish Lightning’ to be striking better and better I need to be improving all the time and keeping busy and staying active.
Dean was asked how soon he’d like to look at title shots. “Straight away. I want to fight for a title. WBO Intercontinental title, Irish title – I proved myself in there tonight. He was a tough, tough journeyman. I stuck to the gameplan, stayed professional and got the win. I wasn’t looking for the knockout. [I thought] I’d get him in time but I didn’t, there were only eight rounds to go. In the next fight I can only improve from there.”