Cuban star comes into Casey’s sights

WILLIE ‘Big Bang’ Casey could be the ideal opponent for the two-time Olympic champion Guillermo Rigondeaux, according to the Cuban’s manager Gary Hyde.

The Limerick southpaw, who makes his first appearance as European champion in a non title against Venezuelan southpaw Manuel “Zorro” Sequera tomorrow night is not overawed by the Cuban.

Rigondeaux beat Ricardo Cordoba on a split decision to claim the interim WBA World super bantamweight title at the Cowboys Stadium in Arlington last month but the Limerick southpaw is excited by the prospect and said it would be “fantastic” for it to happen.

However, television issues will determine whether or not the fight takes place in Ireland.

“He’s certainly up for the fight and I think it could be fantastic if it was to come off,” Gary Hyde said. “I promised I would bring the world champion to Ireland to fight and Rigo is virtually world champion. “He is in exactly the same situation as Cordoba was in when he came to Ireland to fight Bernard Dunne.” But he admitted the Rigondeaux-Cordoba fight between two counter-punchers was a bit of an anti-climax. Cordoba was on the floor in the fourth round and when Rigondeaux’s glove touched the floor in the sixth it was given as a knock-down.

“If Willie does what he has been doing all along then this has the makings of a cracking fight.”

But he said whether or not the fight takes place in Ireland will depend on television.

“We have ESPN coming from the US but RTE or Sky would have to be interested. I know Sky love the fight and they have four promoters in the UK that they work with and they want me to work with one of them.”

Casey’s manager, Ballyvourney businessman, Don O’Leary, who heads up DolPhil Promotions along with the two time European bronze medallist, Philip Sutcliffe, wants the fight to go ahead and has made no secret of the fact that he would fancy his man’s chances against the Cuban.

“Obviously all our focus is on the European title defence against Kiko (Martinez) but the WBA have accepted Willie as a challenger and we have been talking to Rigondeaux’s team. If there is agreement and the money is right for Willie we could vacate the European belt and go for a world title shot,” he said.

After Friday nights fight with Sequera, “Big Bang” will have another non title fight in Cork at the end of January before the mandatory defence of the EBU belt against Kiko Martinez in Limerick in March.

Looking at the bigger picture, Casey won’t want to take chances against Sequera who has been around the block. He won 18 of 30 contests and one of his losses was to Martinez back in 2005.

Friday night’s 10 fight extravaganza will be headlined by Casey’s stablemate, Anthony Fitzgerald, who takes on Englishman, Kevin Hammond, for the vacant WBF Inter-Continental middleweight title.

After only 11 professional fights Fitzgerald moves to middleweight — the weight where coach Phil Sutcliffe believes he belongs — for his title shot.

“Anto is a natural middleweight and a strong middleweight at that,” Sutcliffe said. “We’ve defended the Irish title against all who wanted a go and now we’re chasing Lee or Duddy at this weight.”

“Of course I want Lee and Duddy. I want to be testing myself against the best Irishmen in my division but that’s for another day,” Fitzgerald said.

“Right now I’m not looking past my fight with Hammond. We’ve looked at some tapes of him and he’s a tough lad with a good bang too but I’m probably the best I’ve ever been in and that belt will not be leaving Dublin.”

More in this section


Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up