McDonagh shocked as IBU deliver knock-out blow on purse

PETER McDONAGH’s joy at shocking raging favourite Michael Gomez for boxing’s Irish lightweight title quickly evaporated yesterday after the Irish Boxing Union announced it was withholding his purse pending an investigation into allegations that the fight had been rigged.

The claim followed alleged betting irregularities on Saturday’s National Stadium bout. A spokesman for Boyle Sports said that they had suspended betting on the fight on Saturday afternoon following unusual betting patterns.

It’s understood a lot of money was laid at odds of 125/1 that McDonagh would stop his man in the fifth round - so much so that the price dropped to 18/1 before betting was suspended. The fight did end dramatically in the fifth round when Gomez turned his back on his opponent and walked to his corner. That was after he had been floored by a left hook to the body, followed by a right to the head.

Referee Seanie Russell said he stopped the fight when it became apparent Gomez was no longer able to defend himself.

Gomez went to his corner, shook his head to legendary trainer Billy Graham, and slid under the ropes, clearly dazed. He sat for a moment on the ringside then went straight to his dressing room and failed to show for the press conference.

Matthew Macklin, a stablemate of Gomez, was in the changing room and, according to McDonagh, Gomez said he was gone and did not know where he was.

McDonagh was shattered by the suggestion that the fight had been fixed. “Look at me. Look at my face. Does it look like the fight was fixed. I don’t like to look like this,” he said. “There are people out there who can’t believe that I beat Michael Gomez. When they wake up in the morning they still won’t believe it.

“I went into the changing room and met Michael Gomez after the fight. I thanked him for the fight and he just said: ‘That’s it. I’ve retired. I came back with everything and there is nothing left. There was nothing I could do.’

“I caught him with a left hook to the body and that’s what did him. He tried to move, but he could not move his feet. We watched a lot of Michael Gomez on tapes and when you hit him with a good shot he comes back stronger. So I flicked a couple of jabs to see how he would react. He never reacted and then I hit him with a solid right hand and that was it.

“It was an excellent knock-out and nobody can take the glory away from me. I broke his heart. I respect Michael Gomez and I know he has got too big a heart to go out and put money on himself to lose. That’s just ridiculous. He came here to win.”

Promoter Brian Peters said he was just astounded at any suggestion that the fight was fixed. “At the moment I am just getting everything secondhand. I heard Steve Collins said something on TV but any suggestion that the fight was fixed is just ridiculous. It is absurd. Obviously we will have to look into the matter tomorrow. That’s all I can say about it at the moment.”

Family and friends of McDonagh, who were at the post fight press conference said they had backed him to win in the second, third, fifth, sixth and seventh rounds because they knew the records of both boxers.

McDonagh, who hails from Carraroe, Co Galway, went into the fight with seven wins and 11 losses behind him including a loss to Robbie Murray at the National Stadium last May when they fought for the vacant Irish light-welterweight title, but this time around he had the assistance of Uri Geller as a mind power coach.

He won the first round by picking off Gomez with some accurate jabs as he bullied his way forward and while Gomez won the second decisively and shaded the third he struggled again the fourth round as McDonagh again caught him with some clean, accurate counter punches. But the bizarre ending was totally unexpected although it appeared as if Gomez was beginning to tire and his punches were not as effective as in the earlier rounds.

Meanwhile, promoter Frank Moloney watched Brian Magee stop Daniil Prakapsou from Belarus 2 mins and 46 secs into the second round of their super-middleweight contest.

“That was the perfect boost for Magee. He looked good tonight and he was sharp and accurate with his punches,” said Moloney who will promote the bill on March 31 when Magee will challenge Carl ‘The Cobra’ Froch for his British and Commonwealth title at the Kings Hall.

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