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Sink or swim as Hyland takes world title shot

Dublin’s Patrick Hyland fights for the WBA interim featherweight belt on the Pacquiao-Marquez undercard, while Brian Magee goes behind enemy lines for his first title defence against Mikkel Kessler.

Hyland, centre, with his team.
Hyland, centre, with his team.

MANNY PACQUIAO AND Juan Manuel Marquez top the bill in the MGM Grand tonight, but Patrick Hyland won’t spare a moment’s thought for the epic rivalry that has gripped Las Vegas.

The Dubliner has a chance to realise every young boxer’s dream when he steps into the ring to face Javier Fortuna for the WBA interim title.

Win and he will become the first man from the island of Ireland to hold a world featherweight belt since Barry McGuigan beat Eusebio Pedroza 27 years ago.

On the biggest night of his career, backed by his promoter and reality TV star Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi, Hyland puts his Irish record of an unbeaten 27 straight wins up to its sternest test yet against one of the division’s rising stars in Fortuna.

The 22-year-old from La Romana in the Dominican Republic has turned his share of heads in winning all 20 of his professional bouts, 15 of them by knock-0ut.

“He’s a lefty, which is a problem for most right-handed fighters, but we’ve trained hard to move to the left,” Tallaght-native Hyland, 29, said as he finalised his preparations last week.

I have to stay sharp and focused, especially the first few rounds, so he doesn’t catch me. Our plan is to take him into deep water and see what he has left.

He added: “Manny Pacquaio is the best known boxer in the world and fighting on his undercard hasn’t really sunk in yet, and it probably won’t until after the fight. It has gone through my mind but it’s all been positive.

“We have two unbeaten fighters who both want to win and get that belt. We’ll put on a show, fighting on the biggest stage, and we could steal the show.”

Elsewhere, Lisburn’s Brian Magee will be hoping to complete a famous hat-trick of Danish wins when he defends his WBA super-middleweight title against Mikkel Kessler.

The Ulster man has gone behind enemy lines to beat both Mads Larsen and Rudy Markussen but is a rank outsider to take the scalp of one of Denmark’s most famous sporting sons.

“I could have picked an easier fight but I want to reach the highest pinnacle I can in boxing,” 37-year-old Magee told BBC ahead of his first defence.

“The way I see it, you want to be world champion to fight the best out there.”

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About the author:

Niall Kelly

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