And it was hardly surprising that an air of expectancy should surround yesterday afternoon’s weigh-in at Ballsbridge where the German-based Armenian, Roman Aramian, promised to exact revenge for Ireland’s defeat of Armenia in the European championship by stripping Brian Magee of his European super middleweight title.
Magee, however, has the power and the ammunition to button the Armenian and he also has the incentive because today he stands just one fight away from a world title shot after being installed as the WBA’s No1 challenger at super middleweight.
Kiko Martinez, who sensationally stripped Bernard Dunne of the European super bantamweight title in the very first round on his last visit to a Dublin ring, was making no secret of the fact that he hoped to lure the former world and European champion back out of retirement after he reclaims the European crown by defeating another Armenian, Arsen Martyrosian, who is based in France.
While Dubliner Paul Hyland, who holds the EU and Irish super bantamweight titles, was focused on tonight’s clash with the experienced American Robert DaLuz, he admitted he will be looking for a shot at whoever wins the vacant European title.
But the fight of the night could be the big Dublin derby between Anthony Fitzgerald and Robbie Long, with Fitzgerald’s Irish super middleweight title on the line.
This will be the third meeting between Fitzgerald, from Dublin’s North inner city, and Long, who hails from Tallaght.
When they met for the first time early last year Long hammered out a close points victory but Fitzgerald gained revenge nine months later in another toe-to-toe thriller.
Two of the three Cork-based Cubans, super middleweight Louis Garcia and super bantamweight, Alexei Acosta, and the newly-crowned Irish heavyweight champion, Coleman Barrett from Galway, also feature on the bill and will be in action again on the under-card when Paul McCloskey defends his European title against Scotland’s Barry Morrison in Letterkenny on October 2.
Barrett, who got off the floor to beat Colin Kenna, brother of the former Republic of Ireland soccer international Jeff Kenna, to win the vacant Irish heavyweight title, just cannot get enough of the action right now.
“I was happy with the result obviously and very proud to lift the Irish title but I wasn’t one bit happy with my performance against Kenna,” the Galway southpaw insisted. “My defence was rubbish and I made a lot of mistakes in that fight. But, aside from the knockdown in the second round, I won it fairly comfortably.
“A busy fighter is a happy fighter and these fights in Dublin and Letterkenny will give me an opportunity to show some of the things I have been working on in the gym. I’ve been getting some good sparring in with John McDermott so I feel sharp and ready to go.”
Beyond his next two fights Barrett is eyeing up possible Irish title defences against the likes of Belfast’s former Commonwealth Champion, Martin Rogan, Mike Tyson’s conqueror Kevin McBride and unbeaten duo Ian Tims and Declan Timlin.
“The Irish heavyweight scene was a bit of a ghost town for a while but things are definitely heating up again and I know there are quite a few guys eyeing up my title,” he said.
“Obviously Martin Rogan is due back from injury soon and it will be great to have him back on the scene but I don’t want to sit around waiting when there are some good defences out there for me. I won’t be avoiding anyone, I’ll beat whoever is put in front of me and I want to keep the Irish title active because before it hadn’t been fought for 13 years before I won it.
“Kevin (McBride) is back on the scene here now and I’m sure he’ll give the Prizefighter a good go,” said Barrett who reached a Prizefighter final himself in 2009 before losing out to Audley Harrison in what remains the only defeat of his career.
“To be fair to Kevin he never lost the title in the ring so I’d have no problem giving him an opportunity. He’s a big, strong man and of course he made his name sending Mike Tyson into retirement so that would be a good fight for Irish boxing fans.”