Featherweight Patrick Hyland (25-0) got off to a winning start with new promoter Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi when he defeated Emmanuel Lucero (26-9-1) by unanimous decision at the Resorts Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City last Saturday night.
The drama began before the fight when the diminutive Lucero bounded into the ring looking like a WWE fighter with a green and red facemask. Not to be outdone, Hyland rocked into the hall led by Snooki to ACDC’s “Thunderstruck.”
Hyland, who was last in action in August in Ireland, out-boxed Lucero easily in the early rounds as the Mexican repeatedly came in with his head low trying to throw overhand bombs at the Dubliner. However, Hyland was ready to the task and kept him at bay with solid combinations and good movement.
In the third round Hyland stumbled the sturdy Mexican with a body-head combination as the two began to trade leather more frequently.
In the fourth, the boxing subsided temporarily as the two started to brawl. Hyland enjoyed the better of the exchanges and was tagging the Mexican for the first two minutes of the round, but Lucero came back strong in the final minute and caught Hyland with some hard shots that the Shamrock Rovers fan absorbed well.
In the fifth, there was a slight lull as tactics resurfaced, and Hyland began to pick his shots and resist the temptation to get sucked into another war.
That theme continued for the rest of the fight, with the Dubliner using his boxing skills to negate the head-first attacks of his opponent, catching him with a few well-timed uppercuts.
At the end of the fight, all three judges scored the fight for Hyland, 77-75, 78-74 and 79-73.
“I slugged with him for four rounds. I was happy with the performance,” Hyland told the Voice after the fight at ringside.
“He had more wins that I had fights, so I knew it was going to be a good fight. He has a good knockout ratio, but he didn’t hit that hard,” he said, adding that it was of great benefit to get rid of his ring rust by going eight hard rounds with a seasoned fighter.
“I took everything that he landed on me. I got into a bit of a brawl in the middle. The boxing went out the window and I started to bang, but the fans loved it.”
Hyland does not plan to take too long off and plans to be back in action again in late March/April. The 28-year-old hopes he can get a crack at a world title in 2012.
Trainer Tracy Patterson saw good and bad things from his fighter’s performance.
“I’d give him a B-plus. There were different times when he could have punched a bit more on the inside, worked a bit more on the angles,” he said.
However, there was plenty for the former two-time world champion to feel encouraged about.
“His (Patrick’s) conditioning was great. There were times when he fought well on the inside. He threw a nice straight right hand down the pipe and a nice upper cut coming inside,” said Patterson, adding that Lucero was the type of guy that “you have to fight to move up to the next level.”
Patterson made no mention of any fighters he would like Hyland to fight next, stating only that he would sit down with Patrick and his father, Paddy Sr. -- who called out Yuriorkis Gamboa in the ring after the fight -- to assess where to go next.
Earlier in the evening, super bantamweight Paul Hyland (21-2-0, 6 KOs) won a unanimous decision over Arturo Santiago from Puerto Rico in a six-round contest.
As game as Santiago was, it was quickly apparent that Hyland was the far superior boxer. Santiago pushed the fight to Hyland, but he was an open target for the overhand right and the 27-year-old Irishman wasn’t afraid to use that punch.
Hyland’s best moments came after setting things up with his jab, but in the second half of the fight he barely threw his left hand. Hyland confirmed afterwards that he bruised his hand hitting his opponent’s head in the middle rounds and that caused him a little discomfort.
The setback also allowed Santiago to make it more of a fight that it should have been, but at the end the judges scored it 59-55 and 58-56 twice.
“I rocked him a few times in there and I could have stepped up and finished him off but I wanted to get the six rounds because I needed the work,” said Paul after the fight, adding that he only found out who his opponent was days before the fight.
“I decided to get in and box and do my thing. I was on the ropes, but I was making him miss. The left hand is a bit swollen. It happened in the third round, but it was a good fight and he was prepared.”
The first Hyland to take the ring on Saturday night was Eddie (16-2), who fought a four-round junior middleweight fight and dropped a unanimous decision to Franklin Gonzalez (15-9).
Hyland had a bad opening round with his opponent dominating and landing some hard shots on the Dubliner.
However, in the second and third, Eddie found more of a rhythm, seemed to push the action more and connected with come clean shots.
Both men sensed that the result was in the balance going into the last, and they fought a keenly competitive final round that the Puerto Rican might have just edged.
The judges scored the fight as follows, 39-37, 39-37 and 40-36 in favor of Gonzalez.
Paddy Hyland, Sr. was not happy with the outcome.
“The first round was a bit shaky, he (Eddie) got rocked a bit, but it doesn’t mean you win the round. One of the judges gave that kid the four rounds. In my opinion, that is a joke,” he said.
“There is no way that kid won four rounds. I thought Eddie won the second and third rounds, and the fourth round was close. I just thought it was a bad decision.”
Eddie was also a little perplexed at how the judges interpreted the fight.
“You could give him the first round, but I thought I won the second and third. He wasn’t catching me cleanly; he was catching my gloves,” said the 30-year-old.
“I rocked him a couple of times but I don’t know what the judges were looking at. I was the more aggressive fighter.”
In other news, junior middleweight Kevin Rooney Jr. (2-1) is back in action this Saturday night at the Times Union Center in Albany. The 27-year-old will fight Stanley Harvey (1-1) in a contest scheduled for four rounds at a contract weight of 160 pounds.
Rooney is coming off his first loss as a professional back in October, and he is keen to get that defeat out of his system this weekend.
“This was an injury-free training camp and I am very confident going into Saturday. I am very much looking forward to getting back in there and erasing that horrible memory,” Rooney told the Irish Voice via e-mail on Monday.
Rooney, who is also PR director for DiBella Entertainment, feels he won his last outing but blames himself for allowing his opponent get a stronghold in the fight.
As well as getting back on the winning track, there is also a significant reward if he impresses with a win.
“If this fight goes well I will be fighting on the March 17 card at the Garden, so I am going to make sure this one goes the right way!”