Union awards purses to McDonagh and Gomez

The Boxing Union of Ireland have put an end to the controversy surrounding last month's Irish Lightweight title fight between Peter McDonagh and Michael Gomez by releasing both fighters' purses.

The Union had withheld both purses after the duo's January 28 clash at the National Stadium, which McDonagh won by TKO, ended in bizarre circumstances. With the decision still in the balance, Gomez dropped his guard in the fifth round and was eventually floored after taking eight punches without reply.

In the aftermath, former world champion Steve Collins immediately called the fight's conclusion into question on RTE Television, saying: "I would like to know if there was big money bet on the fight to be stopped in the fifth (round). I would be surprised if Mel Christie and the BUI do not investigate this - I smell a rat."

It also emerged that bookmakers Boylesports had suspended betting on the fight due to "an unusual pattern of betting" on the Galway-born McDonagh winning in the fifth, sixth or seventh rounds.

In another twist, the Manchester-based Gomez, who was born 28 years ago in a car in Longford, announced his retirement after the defeat, insisting that he was going to move onto a career in body-building.

The BUI reacted to the controversy by withholding both fighters' pursues and launching a full investigation.

In a statement released this evening, the BUI revealed: "The Executive Committee of the Boxing Union of Ireland carried out an investigation with a view to answering three questions -

1. Did Michael Gomez walk away from the fight in circumstances where he was still able to defend himself and keep fighting?

2. If so, what were his motives in so doing?

3. Did anyone profit financially, directly or indirectly, by doing that, or was there any "betting scam.""

The BUI interviewed and/or took evidence from Gomez, McDonagh, the ringside medical adviser Dr. David O'Flaherty, fight referee Sean Russell, Adrian Eastwood of Eastwood Bookmakers, Brian Cusack, senior Sports Trader with Paddy Power Bookers, Cashmans Bookmakers of Cork and the British Boxing Board of Control.

While concluding that Gomez "could have kept going with the fight, but decided not to", the statement continued: "It would be a matter of the gravest concern for the Boxing Union of Ireland if there was any betting scam or if it appeared that any fight was 'fixed.'

"Both Michael Gomez and Peter McDonagh confirmed that neither they, their families, nor any person in their camp, as far as they were aware, betted on the fight. Michael Gomez said that he stopped fighting because he made a decision, there and then in the fifth round, to retire from the sport.

"More importantly, however, the Boxing Union of Ireland wrote to various bookmakers, by registered post, including Boylesports. For the purposes of this investigation, it is extremely disappointing that, out of all the bookmakers written to, Boylesports was the only bookmaker who failed to reply to the Union's queries.

"This is particularly so, since a representative of Boylesports was prepared to go on Newstalk 106 and RTE Radio 1 to discuss the matter, in addition to the fact that it was stated on national television on the night of the fight that "Boylesports have suspended betting.""

The BUI's final decision confirmed an agreement "to release the purses to both fighters" and that "no financial penalty" is to be imposed on either McDonagh or Gomez.

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