Despite it's well deserved reputation as the home of Irish boxing the National Stadium in Dublin has yet to stage a European title fight. All that will change on Saturday, September 11th when the South Circular Road venue plays host to a European title double header on the Hunky Dorys Fight Night.
Brian Magee headlines as he makes the first defence of his European Super Middleweight title against German based Armenian Roman Aramian while the second European title bout on the card will see the return of Kiko “La Sensación” Martinez as he bids to repeat his stunning first round win over Bernard Dunne by once again lifting the European Super Bantamweight title against French based Armenian, Arsen Martirosyan.
It all adds up to a huge night of championship boxing with a third title bout on the card featuring the eagerly awaited rubber match between Dublin rivals Anthony Fitzgerald and Robbie Long for the Irish Super Middleweight title.
There will be further Dublin interest on the undercard with European Union and Irish Super Bantamweight Champion Paul Hyland also featuring alongside exciting Liffeyside talents Gavin “The Pimpernel” Prunty and Light Heavyweight Brendan Fitzpatrick who makes his pro debut under the guidance of 4 weight Irish Champion Jim Rock.
The card will also include the Cork based Cuban trio of Alexei Acosta, Mike Perez and Luis Garcia as they look to extend their unbeaten records and stay on track to add World professional titles to the World Junior titles all three won in the amateur ranks.
Promoter Brian Peters believes that the capital's fight fans are in for a real treat. “There hasn't been a European title fight in Dublin since Bernard Dunne lost his title to Kiko at the old Point in 2007 so to have two in the one night and an all Dublin Irish title fight on the card as well means it should be a night to remember,” said Peters.
“Brian Magee has been one of Irish boxing's great servants and to win the European title in the manner he did by winning the title on the road in such emphatic fashion was a fantastic achievement and I'm delighted to be able to give him the opportunity to make his first defence at home in what should be a tough assignment against Roman Aramian.
“As for Kiko I don't think there is a person in Ireland who doesn't remember the mayhem he caused here back in 2007 with his win over Bernard and if he can get past Martirosyan I'm sure he'd relish the chance of returning to defend the title against the likes of Willie Casey and Paul Hyland but he'll have his hands full with Martirosyan first and I think their styles could make for a real thriller.”
For Magee the Hunky Dorys Fight Night marks the first defence of the title he won on the road in January when he stopped local hero Mads Larsen in Denmark. The Lisburn southpaw is delighted to be back on home ground as he defends his belt at a venue which has always held a special place in his heart.
"I've always had fond memories of boxing at the Stadium”, said Magee. “I won Irish titles there from the juvenile ranks all the way through to the seniors as well as boxing in internationals for Ireland it's great to return to such familiar surroundings to make my first defence and I know I'll get great support there."
Magee's impressive seventh round stoppage win in Denmark has revitlaised his career and he believes that an impressive win over Aramian could leave him in pole position for a World title shot. "Winning the European title by stopping Larsen in his backyard was probably the best win of my career. It's made people sit up and take notice and I'm rated now by all the world governing bodies and both the WBC and WBA have me rated number 5 in the World.
"I've sat down with my training team of J R Rooney, Bernardo Checa and Alex Doherty to watch a few of Aramian's fights and I'm expecting a tough night. He's a come forward attacking fighter and you can bet he will look to raise his game because it's the biggest opportunity of his career.
"I'm experienced enough to know that at this level there are no easy nights so we will be prepared for all eventualities. Between now and fight time my team will devise a fight plan and any contingencies we need to plan for. I'm so close now to my goal of a World title shot that I can't afford any slip ups."
Magee's manager, Pat Magee (no relation) is confident that he can deliver a World title opportunity for his charge. "The most likely avenue to a world title for Brian at this time is the the WBA route,” revealed Magee. “I've had preliminary talks regarding a World title fight and the champion Dmitry Sartison is due to make a mandatory defence and as the ratings stand at present Brian could be next in line.
“The other titles are not out of the question altogether but they present greater difficulties. The WBC title held by Mikkel Kessler is tied up in the Super Six tournament until the latter end of 2011. The IBF champion Lucien Bute is due a mandatory defence in October and the WBO champion Robert Stieglitz has a mandatory coming up also.
"The super middleweights division is the hottest commodity in boxing at the moment right now with the success of the Super Six tournament format. Brian would dearly love to get involved in that mix and there is always the possibility that he could enter by the back door if he were to win a world title. He has followed the tournament avidly and has ambitions to fight the winner."
Dublin also holds fond memories for Kiko Martinez. “La Sensación” stunned the boxing world back in August of 2007 when he needed just 86 seconds to end Bernard Dunne's European title reign at the last ever event in the old Point and he will be hoping to bring down the house at the National Stadium in September when he clashes with Arsen Martirosyan with his old European Super Bantamweight crown on the line.
“Obviously I have very happy memories from beating Bernard Dunne in Dublin, that was a great night for me,” recalled the 24-year-old. “I'm very confident that the result will be the same this time around. I know that Martirosyan is a good fighter but I am very determined to become European Champion again and I won't let anything or anyone get in my way.”
Two Irish super bantamweights who will be keeping a keen eye on the clash are current European Union and Irish champ Paul Hyland (who features on the undercard) and Limerick's Prizefighter champion, Willie “Big Bang” Casey both of whom have been linked to a clash with the winner of next months fight.
“I'm familiar with Paul Hyland, I have trained alongside him in Spain before and he is a nice boxer but I would have no problem fighting him,” revealed Martinez.
“His style is similar to Dunne, he is flashy and sometimes keeps his hands a little low which is going to be very dangerous against a puncher like me. I don't know too much about Willie Casey but I don't think he would pose any problems for me either. I don't spend too much time worrying about my opponents, I let them worry about me because I know and they know that I have the power to end a fight with one punch.
“I've already beaten Bernard Dunne and with respect to both Hyland and Casey I believe he was a better fighter than either of them so it would not be a problem for me to fight them in Ireland as I feel they would be stepping stones for me on the way to a world title.”
With Spanish sport riding on the crest of a wave at the moment the Alicante based Martinez is confident that he can bring further glory back to Spain. “My goal now is to win back the European title, defend it successfully and then win a World title.
“Right now the Spanish are on top of the world, we just won the World cup, in Rafael Nadal we have one of the world's greatest athletes and another Spaniard Alberto Contador has just won the Tour de France so I want to become the best in the world in my sport. In fact I would be happy to take on Poonsawat Kratingdaengym and take the WBA Super Bantamweight title the same way that he took it from Bernard Dunne.”
Tickets for the Hunky Dorys Fight Night priced €40, €75 and €100 go on sale from Wednesday morning and will be available from Ticketmaster.ie / 0818 719300 or the National Stadium on 087 2511772, the Ticket Office on 086 8120135 or the boxers on the bill.