Tuesday 22 May 2018

Box future is assured

Darren Cruise impressed in the National Stadium last weekend. Photo: Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile
Darren Cruise impressed in the National Stadium last weekend. Photo: Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile

There were plenty of eye-catching performances on last Saturday's show at the National Stadium.

Skilled novice pros Chris Blaney and Jay Byrne won with KOs. And there were impressive wins for Bernard Roe, Seán Creagh, Michael Devine and Darren Cruise. Paul Hyland Jnr stopped his opponent in the first.

Dublin super lightweight Jake Hanney beat the more experienced Innocent Anyanwu, who'd knocked 13 opponents out in 22 wins.

"I hit him in the second and my right hand is still numb now," revealed Hanney afterwards. "I watched him online and knew he was going to be tough. I'm glad I took the hard fight because those four rounds have done me good."

Managed by Frank Stacey, Hanney had coaching in Manchester before the fight with Ricky Hatton, who was at ringside to watch the Dubliner in his first fight since arriving home from Australia with a WBO Pan-Am title.

"That was my first fight in 18 months," said Hanney. "This is the future for me. I'll base myself here and I'll be going back over to Manchester for training sessions."

Stacey reveals that Hanney has caught the attention of top English promoters.

"We're going to keep him busy," he says. "An Irish title win will see him ranked in the Top 15 in Europe."

In camp, Hanney sparred with Eric Donovan, the RTé pundit, who showed all his class outboxing an opponent who was coming off a win at the York Hall.

"I knew he was cute," says Donovan. "He was trying to land a big overhand punch I was wary of his head. Our heads clashed once. I had to adjust to it."

This was Eric's pro debut.

"I'm not in this just to experience it," he insists. "I had a great amateur career and won a lot. I believe I have a good four or five years left."


The five-times Irish amateur champion is a keen student of the sport.

"This is the start," he says. "Hopefully we'll be looking at an Irish title this time next year. It'll be savage."

Donovan is forensic in his analysis.

"I boxed in the World Series of Boxing but, although it's professional, it's more of an amateur style," he explains.

"It's a high tempo sprint over five rounds. In this, the tactics are different. You can't afford to lose a round. But you have time to have a look at your opponent. It's a learning curve."

"I've learned a lot about boxing from analysing fights," he adds. "My best is my boxing skills and I've belief in myself. But I've loads to learn. This is a tough business. I wouldn't be in it if I didn't think I was good enough."

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