Featherweight Allan Phelan (2-2) knocked out James Small (0-4) in the second round of their fight at the Resorts Casino in Queens last Saturday. In doing so, the 21-year-old exorcised the ghost of his last performance at the same venue, where he lost a close split decision to Micah Branch in September.
Phelan came into this fight at 128 pounds, while his opponent weighed in at 130. The Irishman entered the ring clad in green shorts and was accompanied by his co-trainers Don Saxby and Grant Seligson and promoter Jim Foley.
Phelan started strongly and set the tone for the fight immediately when he connected with a powerful left hook. That shot gained some respect from Small, who took to moving around the ring in somewhat of a survival mode.
The two sized each other up over the rest of the stanza, and though Phelan was more active, he was only throwing single shots and never put any combination of note together.
In the second round, Phelan switched to southpaw to try and take his opponent out of his comfort zone. The ploy worked, and when Phelan returned to orthodox style he caught Small with a huge right that floored him.
The Cincinnati native tried to crawl back to his corner to get up, but he could not beat the count and the fight was over with 2:04 gone in the round.
"It was a perfect timed right hand," co-trainer Don Saxby told the Irish Voice after the fight. "Right now he is still growing as a pro. At this point it is just taking it step by step.”
Phelan’s temperament during the fight impressed Saxby the most.
"[It was] his listening and the eye contact that he made in the corner. He didn't let the crowd get to him. I am pleased with the performance. He could have done a little more, but the other guy wasn't really trying to engage,” Saxby said.
"He is a 126 pounder, but he hits like a welterweight. He has what we call a one-hitter quitter. If he hits you clean, you are going."
Phelan was delighted to get his second win as a professional.
“It felt good. I am happy to have done what we were practicing in the gym. We trained well and were ready to go the full way, but I got the right hand in and I took it,” he said.
Phelan and his trainers had been working on switching to southpaw for this fight when an option. "I’d been training to do it. I tried to put his mindset off and then I lined back in the normal stance the right hand caught him,” he added.
Phelan hopes to build on this victory by staying busy in the coming months. The Kildare native's promoter, Jim Foley, was delighted that his man was able to get back to .500 as a professional.
“That was very important to us. It would have been very hard to keep going [had Phelan dropped to 1-3]. His first fight [during which Phelan dislocated his shoulder] was not even a fight injury,” Foley said.
“He is now at two wins and one loss since he has come back. I’m very happy. He is a great young guy. He had to settle into the professional game and he was having a little trouble, but I saw a lot of improvement tonight.”
Later on the same card, light heavyweight Joe Smith Jr. (12-1,11 KOs) scored a unanimous decision win over Hamid Abdul-Mateen (3-4-2).
In other news, middleweight Andy Lee (29-2, 20 KOs) confirmed to the Irish Voice early on Tuesday that he is fighting in New York City on May 15 in the latest installment of his promoter Lou DiBella's Broadway Boxing series.
The fight had originally been slated to take place in Washington, D.C. on May 18, but Lee fans in the New York area will now have the opportunity to see the London-based fighter in action with new trainer Adam Booth.
"I'm actually fighting in New York City next Wednesday the 15th at BB Kings vs. Daryl Cunningham. An issue with TV so my fight was switched to New York,” Lee told the Irish Voice via Twitter. "Looking forward to fighting in New York again."
Cunningham (28-4, 11 KOs) is a 38-year-old veteran from Detroit and is a southpaw like Lee. He was last in action on March 7 when he defeated Ruben Galvan at the Motor Casino in Detroit.
On paper, this is an assignment that Lee should have no problem with, but this fight represents another opportunity for the 28-year-old and his new trainer to execute on what they have been working on in the gym together. Lee admitted after his last win over Anthony Fitzgerald in February that he would need more experience with Booth before he took on a more serious challenge.
Tickets for the fight are available at 212-947-2577.
Finally, no opponent has been confirmed for Patrick Hyland’s May 18 fight in Poughkeepsie. The 27-1 featherweight will headline a promotion called “The Heat Is On” at the Mid-Hudson Civic Center.