Big night for Cork, Limerick and ‘Big Bang’
There was good news at the weekend for Irish boxing when it emerged negotiations over a bout involving newly crowned EBU European super-bantamweight champion Willie Casey and Cuban southpaw Guillermo Rigondeaux are at an advanced stage.
At stake will be the WBA interim belt, the one held by Poonsawaat Kratingdaenggym prior to his third round stoppage of Bernard Dunne in the Dubliner’s first world title defence in September of last year.
It is hoped the bout will take in March at the Green Glens Arena in Millstreet, Cork, which holds around 7,000. The winner will effectively be fast-tracked into the mandatory challenger position for a crack at world title holder Ryol Li Lee, who defeated Kratingdaenggym on a unanimous decision in October.
‘The Jackal’, managed by Cork native Gary Hyde, has fought just seven times as a pro, making him even less experienced than Casey (11(7)-0), but five of those have been inside the distance and he claimed the interim belt with a split decision over Ricardo Cordoba, the durable and classy Panamanian relieved of his title by Dunne in an 11-round war of attrition at The Point in March 2009.
Fighting the Cuban will mean ‘Big Bang’ vacating the European belt and therefore abdicating from the planned defence against Spain’s Kiko Martinez. It’s a no-brainer for Casey, really. Martinez is a dangerous opponent and in the grand scheme of things the EBU belt is not worth the risk with the alternative available.
Casey has designs on a world title and there’s no reason why he can’t push anyone in the division close. With ESPN already on board, according to Hyde, the potential dividends and exposure from a home bout against Rigondeaux are too good to turn down.
Hyde has also predicted a competitive undercard, something that was sadly lacking in the Dunne era. Brian Peters always promised big things from the sideshows but what was served up rarely lived up to his billing.
It will be a welcome return to Cork for big-time boxing and if all parties can deliver it has the makings of a memorable night.
In the meantime, Casey will face Manuel ‘Zorro’ Sequera at the National Basketball Stadium in Tallaght this Friday. There’s nothing on the line and the Spaniard (10-18-1), who has lost six of his last seven bouts, is unlikely to trouble the Limerick man. On paper, at least.