Thomas Hardwick won the New York Daily News Golden Gloves heavyweight novice title at the Theater in Madison Square Garden Thursday night when he defeated Earl Newman Jr. by decision in front a sizeable and very vocal Irish support.
The bout was the last of a 14-fight card and the boxers did not square off until near 11.30 p.m.
To say the Irish fans present were raucous would be an understatement, and they built up quite a carnival atmosphere before, during and after the fight.
Once the first bell rang, Hardwick adopted a fast pace, pressurizing his taller opponent relentlessly and not allowing him the space to get off any shots.
The 25-year-old Dubliner scored with two good rights at the mid-point and a left hook towards the end of the round, bullying and unsettling the 18-year-old Newman, who was under the stewardship of John Duddy’s trainer, Harry Keitt.
The same theme of constant pressure continued in the second round, when Hardwick was warned by the referee for using the elbow shortly before his opponent was cautioned for punching the Irishman on the back.
Newman showed he could box when he connected with some straight lefts that might have just about won him the round, but going into the final stanza the fight was finely poised.
Hardwick stormed out for the last round and snapped Newman's head back with a sharp jab followed by a one-two combination that connected to give him a huge early lead in the round.
It was well needed, as Newman had the best punch of the fight when he caught Hardwick flush with a huge right hook, but Hardwick’s chin was solid and he kept coming forward incessantly until the final bell.
After he was declared the winner Hardwick, draped in the Irish flag, dedicated his victory to his friend Warren O’Connor, who died after being stabbed in Dublin in January.
“It was a tough fight from start to finish. He was fit, he was strong and he was a bit taller than me so I had to get inside, but he was a tough fighter.
“To all my fans at home to Warren O’Connor and all his family I am delighted that I could do something over here for yous.
“It is a dream come true to be here in Madison Square Garden and remembering your son.”
Why all Irish men’s beards are red