By Anthony Cocks
Irish eyes were smiling in Sydney over the weekend as world ranked junior welterweight Darragh “Super” Foley 15-2 (8) outboxed fellow contender Steven “The Piranha” Wilcox 18-3-1 (5) to retain his WBA Oceania title and annex the NABA strap on points while Gaige Ireland claimed the vacant Australian lightweight title against Haithem Laamouz and Gearoid Clancy won the New South Wales state junior welterweight title against Sam Williams on the St Patrick’s Day card from The Star Casino in Pyrmont, Sydney, NSW on a Neutral Corner promotion.
The only Irish fighter on the card to come up short was John Hutchinson who was held to a draw by Craig Parke in a fight for the vacant WBC Asian Boxing Council Continental middleweight title.
The WBA #8 and WBO #15 southpaw Foley surprised many by outboxing the boxer to score a comprehensive victory over WBA #10 Wilcox by scores of 117-111, 118-110 and 116-112.
Foley fought four times last year and had to rely on his power more than once to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. With this in mind, many felt that Foley had bitten off more than he could chew against the qualified Canadian from Hamilton, Ontario.
Foley boxed to a smart and effective game plan that saw him take over the fight in the mid-rounds to score a decisive points victory.
Team Foley are hoping for a crack at newly-minted WBA junior welterweight champion Kiryl “Mad Bee” Relikh 22-2 (19) of Belarus. The hard-hitting 28-year-old won the world title earlier this month with a 12 round unanimous decision win over previously unbeaten US-based Cuban emigrant Rances Barthelemy 26-1 (13) in a rematch.
The 29-year-old Foley was born in Kent in the United Kingdom to Irish parents and grew up in the Dublin suburb ofBlanchardstown but now calls Sydney, Australia home. He fights out of the Bondi Boxing Club, home to a number of Irish fighters. The gym has recently aligned itself with MTK Global in a strategic partnership that will see head coach Tony Del Vecchio organise local and international boxing events and scout the next generation of talent in the Oceania region.
On the undercard Irish-born Melbournian Gaige “12 Gauge” Ireland 5-1-2 (3) overcame a disrupted preparation to claim the national 135-pound crown by 10 round majority decision against previously unbeaten Malta-born Sydneysider Haithem Laamouz 12-1 (5).
Ireland, who trains under Brian Butler at East End Boxing in Croydon, had to relocate their camp four weeks ago after their gym was burnt down by arsonists.
Entering the fight as a sizeable underdog, Ireland showed he had a big tank and got better as the rounds progressed, hitting Laamouz hard enough to knock out his mouthguard a number of times.
“I’ve been boxing for ten years now amateur and professional and that’s been the dream from the start,” an emotional Ireland said after the fight.
“Everything I’ve been through with my trainer, we’ve had a rough last ten weeks, to pull it out like that it feels fantastic, I couldn’t ask for more.”
In a crowd-pleasing scrap middleweight John “Buncrana Banger” Hutchinson 12-2-3 (4) had to settle for a split draw in his fight against Craig Parke 10-2-1 (3) for the vacant WBC Asian Boxing council Continental title.
Hutchinson, who is from Buncrana, Ireland but currently resides in Brisbane, Australia, was furious with the result, declaring it a blatant robbery.
“Everybody said to me I was up by four rounds,” said the disappointed 31-year-old in the changerooms after the fight.
In a state title fight, Gearoid Clancy 9-5 (2) won the New South Wales junior welterweight belt against Sam Williams 5-6-3 winning by unanimous decision over eight rounds.
The 33-year-old Sydneysider Clancy, originally from Galway, Ireland, has fought his entire career in Australia since turning pro almost four years ago.
In other results welterweight Riccardo Colosimo 3-0 (2) beat Brent Dames 6-4 on points over four rounds, junior middleweight Daniel Keating 2-0 (2) took a TKO3 victory over debutant Hussain Wasette 0-1 in a scheduled four rounder and Manyang Dut 2-0 (1) originally from Sudan but now residing in Toronto, NSW won by TKO3 over Rhyse Saliba 2-2 in a scheduled four rounder at junior middleweight.