The Hunky Dorys Fight Night has officially become the biggest event in Irish boxing history with the news that Ireland’s finest amateurs will also be in action at The O2, Dublin on Saturday, March 21.
Olympic hero Kenny Egan, World and European champ Katie Taylor, Olympic Medallist Paddy Barnes and World Junior champ Ray Moylette will all face international opposition as our best professionals and amateurs fight side by side at The O2.
Headlining the event is the WBA World Super Bantamweight title fight as Dublin’s own Bernard Dunne challenges for the ultimate prize against World Champ, Ricardo Cordoba while Dublin’s Jim “The Pink Panther” Rock and hot Cavan prospect, Andy Murray, will also be in action.
Promoter Brian Peters believes it all adds up to one of the biggest sporting events to hit Ireland in a long time. “We have the first World title fight in Dublin in 13 years with a Dubliner getting to challenge for the world title in his hometown for the first time ever.
“Then when you add some of the biggest achievers in Irish amateur boxing history like Kenny Egan, Katie Taylor, Paddy Barnes, Ray Moylette and top pro’s like Jim Rock and Andy Murray you have a recipe for a historic night of Irish sport."
The unique event came about after Peters struck a deal with the Boxing Union of Ireland and the Irish Amateur Boxing Association so that both the professional and amateur codes can share the spotlight on the same event.
Dominic O’Rourke the president of the Irish Amateur Boxing Association said, “We're very happy to be part of the event at The O2. It's a big occasion for Irish boxing and will give our amateur boxers the kind of platform they have always wanted. We're very happy to be working with Brian on it and hopefully it will be a big success.”
The President of the Boxing Union of Ireland, Mel Christle echoed his counterparts sentiments saying, “This brings the promotion of Irish boxing on to a whole new level. To have the cream of Ireland’s boxers both professional and amateur on the same bill is a dream come true.”
Peters revealed that the IABA are working on a mouth watering clash that would see Kenny Egan fighting a rematch of his Olympic final against China’s Zhang Xiaoping. Egan says he would relish the opportunity to set the record straight with his Olympic rival at The O2.
The Dubliner southpaw said, “I’m keeping my fingers, toes and everything else crossed that it comes off. The offers out there for him so hopefully he’ll accept. It would show great sportsmanship on his part to come over and give me a rematch in Ireland. The last time I boxed him was in a huge venue full of Chinese people so it would be nice to fight him in a huge venue over here full of Irish people this time!
“There’s no bad blood between us or anything and when all is said and done he beat me in the Olympic final. He has the Gold Medal and I’ve no problem with that but it certainly would be nice to have another shot at him and this time on home ground.”
Double World and European Champion Katie Taylor is another of our amateur starts relishing the opportunity of fighting at The O2.
The Bray woman said, “It's a huge opportunity for me to fight in front of a big crowd and it will be a tremendous experience. It's really going to be a big night for Irish boxing and a great chance for me to perform on a big stage so I'm looking forward to it.
“The atmosphere at Bernard's fights is normally amazing so I can only imagine what it's going to be like in The O2. I'm sure it will be jammed out.”
A man no stranger to big fight nights in Dublin is Jim Rock and having made his pro debut at the old Point Theatre in 1995 he’s delighted to be back there in the new O2.
“It's always been a fabulous venue but the new O2 is out of this world. It's going to be a fabulous event so hopefully the public will come out in their droves to support it because I don't think there's ever been a night like it for Irish boxing. It's great to see the amateurs on it as well and especially Katie Taylor and Paddy Barnes because they’re my neighbours! I often train alongside Katie at the gym in Bray and when I'm up at Belfast in John Breen's gym Paddy Barnes is only up the road from me.”
Despite having set a record by becoming a four weight Irish Champion last time out Rock is refusing to rule retirement in or out ahead of his fight with Italian, Alessio Furlan on March 21.
Rock, who will turn 37 on March 12, said, “I'm not going to cry wolf anymore and say that this will be my last fight although it would be the perfect way to end my career. People don’t believe me any more when I say I’m retiring so I’m not go to say anything this time.
"I made my debut at the old Point in 1995 and when I fought there in 2007 I said that would be my last fight but two years later I'm still going. I'll see how I do in this one and I'll make a decision after the fight.”
The March 21 event will be all new to unbeaten lightweight Andy Murray with the Cavan man yet to step foot in the new O2. “I’m actually going to a gig there next month so I’ll get a taste of it then but for the moment I'm just focusing on my fight in Craigavon at the weekend.
“Once I get that out of the way I'll look ahead to The O2 fight but it's something to look forward to alright. To box on an occasion like that will be something special and something to remember for the rest of your life. These are the kind of nights you want to be involved in and with the pro's and amateurs on the same card as well it should be a great night.”
Tickets for the Hunky Dorys World Title Fight Night are priced from €50 and are available now from Ticketmaster (phone 0818 719 300 or visit ticketmaster.ie). Tickets are also available from Ticketmaster outlets nationwide.