©INPHO/Cathal Noonan

Inside the Ropes: Casey and Frampton pass on an all-Irish showdown

In our boxing round-up this week: Willie Casey and Carl Frampton nearly fix a date, Ray Moylette dramatically seizes a spot on the plane to Azerbaijan and Wayne McCullough pops up to remind us all he hasn’t retired.

ONLY ONCE HAVE two Irishman fought for a European title, and on that occasion Willie “Big Bang” Casey was the victor.  This week, he passed up the opportunity to take part in another all-Irish continental affair, and in doing so left one of our brightest prospects in limbo.

The chain of events that lead to Casey almost becoming an opponent for Belfast’s Carl Frampton could only happen in boxing.  Casey was due to fight Daniel Kodjo Sassou in Limerick tonight, but that show was cancelled and the fight re-scheduled for Belfast in two weeks time.  Frampton, meanwhile, was all set to take on Kiko Martinez for the Spaniard’s European Super-Bantamweight crown, until Kiko pulled out of the bout to be with his ailing father.

Matching up the two Irishman made commercial sense, of course, and talks were held to that end.  They were brief, though, with Casey deciding to pass up the opportunity to regain the belt he briefly held.  No reason was given, but one can only presume that he prioritized re-building his career over an instant shot at glory.  Provided another shot comes in the not-too-distant future, then it’s probably the right decision.  Let’s hope he doesn’t regret it.

Frampton on the other hand is now seven days away from his fight, and though he has been promised a major title fight, he still, at this late stage, does not know who his opponent will be.

Only in boxing.

Moylette blazes past Hickey to qualify for World Championships

It took a cracking last round performance, but last night European champion Ray Moylette booked the last spot on the Irish team for the World Championships in Azerbaijan, which are due to get underway later this month.  Fighting national champion Ross Hickey (for the first time, incidentally)  the Mayo native trailed 9-6 heading into the final round of their contest.  However, a brilliant last-gasp performance gave him the win on a final score of 15-13.

It’s tough for Hickey, who would walk onto the teams of most other European nations, but a good thing for Ireland.  Moylette will be seeded in Baku and is likely to get a more favourable draw.  If he reaches the Quarter Finals, then he’ll be off to London for next year’s Olympics.

The World Championships begin on September 26th.

This Week In Boxing History

It’s often said, to cite boxing’s fall from grace, that when Joe Bloggs is asked to name a boxer, Mike Tyson and Muhammad Ali are the most common responses.  While I don’t believe this to be true, at least one other heavyweight of old would be just as well known.

He wasn’t the most talented or the most dominant, but Frank Bruno was among the most popular boxers of the ’80s and ’90s, a key factor in his getting plenty of opportunities to reach the top of the sport. Most, however, proved to be opportunities he could not take.

In 1986, he was stopped in the 11th round by Tim Witherspoon at Wembley Stadium, and three years later he rocked Mike Tyson (causing BBC commentator Harry Carpenter to issue his famous cry of “Get in there Frank!”) before he was stopped in the fifth.

He also performed admirably for six-and-a-half rounds against Lennox Lewis in Cardiff in 1993, before he was caught out by a short left hook, and knocked out seconds later.

Many feared that, like fellow Brit Henry Cooper before him, Bruno would have to settle for the title of “People’s Champion”.  His last chance came against Oliver McCall, on September 2nd, 1995, again at Wembley Stadium.

In a spirited performance against the bizarre American, Bruno’s dream finally became a reality, as he took the title by unanimous decision. His reign didn’t last long – he lost his next and final fight against Mike Tyson – but the weight of his contribution to the sport means Frank Bruno has certainly secured his place in the annals of boxing lore.

Parries and Jabs

According to BoxRec News, Wayne McCullough “hasn’t retired.” “The Pocket Rocket” hasn’t entered a ring in over three years, but claims his absence hasn’t been a matter of choice: it’s because he “can’t find a fight.” For the sake of his health, let’s hope that continues to be the case.

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