By Terence Dooley
Dean Byrne launched the UK leg of his professional career at the York Hall last Friday night with a decision win over Michael Frontin after boxing in Australia, American and Ireland throughout his paid adventure. ‘Deano’ had bemoaned a lack on in-ring action only to find it was a case of ‘Be careful of what you wish for’ when taking a short notice assignment against French southpaw Frank Haroche Horta in Salford on Friday night. Horta proved too sharp for the brave Irishman who started to ship too many shots for his corner’s liking and was pulled from the firing line by his trainer Anthony Farnell at the end of round eight.
Byrne, 15-1 (6), filled in for Frankie Gavin, the Birmingham boxer went AWOL a day before his scheduled WBO Inter-Continental defence against Horta, 27-8-5 (10), and left a scramble for a bill topper in his wake. Step forward ‘Irish Lightening’, the Dublin boy opting to take a calculated risk in order to get more rounds under his belt.
Although the gamble did not pay off, the 27-year-old helped shore up the FWP/VIP promotions show at Bowlers Exhibition Centre, a move that earned him praise from hard working matchmaker Dean Powell.
“Dean showed what a good professional he is,” stated Powell when speaking to me between fights. “Opportunity is a fine thing. It didn’t come off for him tonight but he didn’t get hurt, he’d started to ship a few big punches, had hurt his right hand from landing it on Horta’s head so he’d done his job as best he could and lives to fight another day. It was the right time to stop it.”
It was a tough night for the home fighters on the BoxNation-televised show as Matthew Hall, now 23-4 (16), picked up a loss after dropping a decision to Bulgaria’s Alexy Ribchev, 12-3-1 (3), over six-threes. Referee Steve Gray awarding the bout to the visitor by a score of 57-59, third round even, after Hall’s sluggish performance.
Although he came into it late, Hall later admitted that he agreed with Gray’s interpretation of the bout and would have to consider his future. ‘El Torito’ brought home the Commonwealth belt during his nine-year career; he has a British title eliminator lined up yet we may have see the last of the 23-4 (16) pressure fighter.
“I didn’t see it all but from what I saw Matthew started it slowly then came on and a few of people had him winning by one round. It is disappointing for Matthew, he’s a nice kid with a nice team around him, but he’s going to have to see where he goes from here,” Powell’s analysis of Hall’s defeat.
“Matthew has got to sit down with [his trainers] Pat Barrett and Thomas McDonagh and discuss it with them. He’s got a British title eliminator, which won’t be affected by tonight’s result, but it is Matthew’s decision.”
It was left to Ronnie Heffron to bring home a W for the home corner. The Oldham-based youngster complied by hammering out a fourth-round stoppage win over Lithuania’s Arvydas Trizno, who falls to 9-15-2 (1), to move to 8-0 (4), earning plaudits from Powell.
“(I’m) very pleased. Ronnie used his jab better tonight, people were saying he didn’t have one but he tries too hard at times and people are forgetting that he’s still a young boy. He’s got everything, is dedicated and disciplined, and I’ve always felt from day one that the better the opponent the more you’ll see from Ronnie.”
He added: “He was more relaxed tonight. He enjoyed it being in front of his own people and I’m sure we’ll look to take him to Oldham in the New Year. 2012 will be a very good for him.”
As for Gavin himself, boxing is unusual in that fights come around once or twice a week for the fans and once every month or two for most of the fighters, leaving a void that is filled with endless speculation and rumours. Ringside rumours over Gavin’s withdrawal included claims his fighting desire has left him and that he was overweight ahead of the weigh in, with figures ranging from 5 to 3lbs, and saw going AWOL as his only option.
Powell was abroad for Gavin’s disappearing act, leaving him with a battle to make Byrne-Horta and shore up the show. “Yeah,” smiled Powell when asked if it had been a hectic 24 hours.
“I just got back from Puerto Rico today because I was at the WBO convention and attended the ratings meeting yesterday. It has been hectic this week. Frankie unfortunately went AWOL so that was tough, but Terry Lawless and Mickey Duff always said that if it easy then we’d all be doing it (working in the sport) so there you go. Frank Warren’s given us all a great platform with BoxNation so we just have to push it on.”
“I honestly don’t know because I haven’t spoken to him (Gavin) properly. I think rumours are a dangerous thing and until I hear something from him or the people around him I’m not prepared to make any comment,” his answer to the questions surrounding Gavin’s decision.
“Listen, he is a World Amateur Champion so obviously the talent is there. You can have as many people around him helping him as you’d like but the only person who can help Frankie is Frankie himself.”
With that it was onto the next one for Powell, his mind already turning to Bonfire night’s Wembley Arena show, which is headlined by Michael Katsidis versus Ricky Burns for the interim WBO lightweight belt and has George Groves against Paul Smith as the co-feature.
“I think they will be two great fights,” he opined. “I’ll be on the edge of my seat for Georgie Groves against Paul Smith and I think we’ve got Michael Katsidis at the right time for Ricky. Ricky’s been a great champion at super-featherweight but now was the time to move up. Katsidis has been at the weight for a long time and for a lot of hard battles so hopefully next week will be Ricky’s time.”
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