John Joe Nevin believes more of Ireland’s world-class amateur boxers will inevitably follow him into the paid boxing ranks, but not because of anything he may achieve in a career which was mapped out in considerable detail in Dublin yesterday.
Nevin was speaking at a press conference to put some meat onto the bones of a decision long since flagged and addressed the issue of his former colleagues’ futures just moments after Paddy Barnes won his latest World Championship bout in Kazakhstan.
The Belfast flyweight has spoken openly about leaving Billy Walsh’s high-performing, high-performance unit. So too has Michael Conlan and Jason Quigley while Joe Ward is another who would have no shortage of suitors were he to turn pro.
“They’re not just going to be looking at me do well and say, ‘oh, I should go’,” Nevin reasoned at the Westbury Hotel off Grafton Street. “Everyone has their goal in the amateur business and when it’s done, when it’s time to move on, they’ll move.”
A number of journalists spent the opening half of yesterday’s briefing with one eye trained on laptops showing the unfolding events in the Almaty ring but Nevin has long since moved on from an environment in which he medalled at every major championship.
His ambitions were laid out in no-nonsense prose: a featherweight world title top of the list; a shot at Luke Campbell, the British boxer who deprived him of gold at London 2012 and the opportunity to walk in Muhammad Ali’s shoes by fighting in Croke Park.
“I want to be the second to do that and it would mean the world to me. What I did in the amateur business, winning all the medals, was special but the goal was to win that Olympic medal and then I got greedy and went for the full package
“But to win a world title is a dream of mine since I was watching the Rocky movies at seven years old. Looking up to Rocky Balboa — a movie — it was a bit childish but it’s come since then and to see Bernard Dunne win a world title in Dublin makes me want it even more.”
There was an element of the poetic then to the fact that he will be based in Philadelphia, the city in which Sylvester Stallone’s Oscar-winning film was based, having signed a deal with Irish American Tom Moran’s Green Blood Boxing and Berkeley Sports & Media.
Nevin hasn’t made it up the 72 famous steps to the Philly Museum of Art just yet but he has completed a recce of the boxing scene in Philly and took in a recent Green Bloodpromotion at the Electric Factory involving former roommate and sparring partner Anthony Cacace.
Cacace is from Belfast and is one of a handful of Irish fighters fighting under the same umbrella in the Pennsylvania city. His presence, and that of Brian McKeown who has trained him from year dot at Cavan Boxing Club, may be crucial to a self-confessed homebird.
McKeown has no doubt but that his charge can transition seamlessly to the paid ranks and insisted he had the punch to match the prancing he is famed for.
“The plan is the same,” said Nevin at one point, “hit and don’t get hit.”
There was an understandable eagerness to get going with Nevin insisting he could take a number of world champions right here, right now but there was a nod to patience too and an acceptance that his first fight will more than likely have to wait until 2014.
GreenBlood’s role is to manage and Berkely’s to act as sponsors but a deal has yet to be agreed with any of the major American promoters whose input will be essential if Nevin is to break the lucrative US market.
Oscar de la Hoya’s Golden Boy and Top Rank are favoured, but only as long as they buy into Moran’s master plan for world domination by a man he said could prove to be Ireland’s greatest ever boxer.
John Duddy’s promoter Eddie McLoughlin sold out Madison Square Garden by “selling tickets to about ten bars in Queens”, according to Moran who talked up an untapped Irish market in the likes of New York, Brooklyn, Boston and Philadelphia.
“That’s why he is going to fight in markets that are Irish, not in undercards of some high-profile pay-per-view fight in Las Vegas where there is nobody in the arena and he can say ‘I fought on Floyd Mayweather’s undercard’ but it doesn’t mean anything.”
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