Boxing

Patrick Hyland's World Title Shot Next Month Deserves Far More Attention Than It's Receiving

Patrick Hyland's World Title Shot Next Month Deserves Far More Attention Than It's Receiving

It's been a tumultuous six months for professional Irish boxing, what with Andy Lee being edged by Billy Joe Saunders in the pair's WBO World title scrap in December, the horrific gangland events which rocked the nation at a weigh-in last month, and Carl Frampton sneaking past arch nemesis Scott Quigg a fortnight ago to unify the IBF and WBA super-bantamweight titles.

Amongst all the furore, it's one of Irish boxing's quiet men who will be seeking to grab the headlines next month, when Dublin's prodigal son Patrick 'The Punisher' Hyland attempts to conquer the world in Connecticut.

On April 16th, the Foxwoods Resort will play host to Pajo's WBC featherweight title tilt against former US Olympian Gary Russell Jr.

One of three boxing brothers, Hyland has perhaps slipped under the radar of the 'mainstream' Irish media since his move to New York in 2011 (though Irish-boxing.com and Kevin Byrne of The Sun can be considered exempt from such sanctimony).

Due to promotional anomalies, the 32-year-old has taken to the ring just four times in the past four years, and only once in his native land. The Tallaght man emerged victorious on all four occasions, with three wins arriving by stoppage.

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Hyland's first bout Stateside was a unanimous decision victory over former Manny Pacquiao opponent Emmanuel Lucero. Two victories later, he was fighting on Pacquiao's undercard.

That December night in Vegas, he dropped a unanimous decision to the heavily-favoured Javier Fortuna for the interim WBA featherweight title, winning the respect of many in attendance as well as HBO's commentary team for a gallant display against his more rapid opponent. It remains the only defeat on Hyland's record, but proved he could hang tough at the highest level.

It also produced one hell of a weigh-in.

Hyland's world title shot had followed one of the most remarkable stories of his career: teaming up with 'Team Snooki' in November 2011. Yes, that Snooki.

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The Jersey Shore character signed Hyland to her boxing promotion, co-run by her father and boxing matchmaker Andy Polizzi. Indeed, 'The Punisher' was the first boxer she added to her stable, perhaps inspired by Tallafornia, which was set in Hyland's native town at the time.

After leaving Snooki on good terms - perhaps the only man in the world who can stake such a claim - Hyland inked with famed boxing promoter Lou DiBella in May 2014. Six months later, the amicable Dub fought in his home city for the first time in three years, outpointing Hungarian Oszkar Fiko (who incidentally was beaten by his fellow Dub Jamie Kavanagh in the National Stadium last year) on the undercard to Matthew Macklin's fight with Jorge Sebastian Heiland at the 3Arena.

His next scrap resulted in a stoppage victory over Manuel de los Reyes Herrera at Madison Square Garden in March of last year, and Hyland must have thought his luck had finally turned under DiBella's guidance.

However, his boxing career again took a back seat due to the sudden loss of his father, coveted Irish boxing trainer Paddy Hyland Sr, last June.

After a testing few months, his return bout sparked one of the most poignant and iconic boxing photographs of 2015:

Now, finally, Hyland will get his second title shot - at the second time of asking, no less; his bout with the heavily-fancied Russell was initially scheduled for March 12th.

Russell's sole defeat came in June 2014 at the hands of potential pound-for-pound superstar Vasyl Lomachenko, regarded by many to be the greatest amateur fighter in the history of boxing. The Washington native captured the title with a 4th round TKO of former two-time world champion Jhonny Gonzalez in March of last year, but a cut ahead of his first defence in the winter had ruled him out of action until present.

His opponent from Dublin has reportedly built a significant following in the Boston area since fighting alongside Spike O'Sullivan and Stephen Ormond in Lowell last October. Both east-facing locals and Hyland's considerable travelling support will be hoping 'The Punisher' can channel 'Irish' Micky Ward when they flock to Foxwoods with an upset in mind.

Russell Jr vs Hyland takes place on April 16th, and will be broadcast live on Showtime in the USA, with tv listings for Ireland and the UK yet to be confirmed.

Gavan Casey
Article written by
Former handwriting champion. Was violently bitten by a pelican at Fota Wildlife Park in 2001.

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