Eddie Hyland

Poor tickets sales due to the recession have forced Irish Ropes Promotions to cancel their St. Patrick’s Eve Erin Go Brawl II show at the WaMu Theater at Madison Square Garden.

The card was also meant to be the next stage for Irish Ropes’ career after its acrimonious split from Derry fighter John Duddy, and the cancellation has left the future of the company unclear.

In a press release last Friday, Irish Ropes outlined the reasons for the cancellation. “This was a very difficult decision to make but ticket sales were way off compared to two years ago when the economy was much better here and back in Ireland,” Irish Ropes Promotions president Eddie McLoughlin explained.

“We apologize for any inconveniences, especially to all of the boxers who worked so hard to prepare for their fights.”

Though Irish Ropes made a business decision to cancel the show, there is no doubt that numerous fans are now making a trip to New York for nothing, not to mention the 20 odd fighters on the card who went through their paces getting into fight condition.  Though McLoughlin acknowledges all of this, the potential financial loss, he says, was just too much of a hit.

“We apologize wholeheartedly. If I had even thought that there was a chance that we could break even or even lose $100 000, I would have gone with it. But the facts are that I stood to lose $200,000 on this, and I had no contract on any fighters to potentially make it up down the road,” McLoughlin told the Irish Voice Monday. 

“All that was gone was about 1,500 tickets from 5,000, and it wasn’t going to get the jumpstart to bring it up to about 3,000 to get even.  I didn’t think we were going to get the walk up that we needed to break even here.

“That is the element of risk you take with these fights. We had no TV and we were depending solely on the ticket returns.”

Breaking the news to the boxers on Thursday was not the easiest call McLoughlin has made. “They weren’t too happy, but they were appreciative that we gave them as much time as we possibly could,” he said.

When McLoughlin was asked if Irish Ropes has a future as a going concern he replied, “Well, we have to wait until the economy gets better. I’ll still be keeping my license, but I won’t be doing any show in the short term.

“This thing with Duddy didn’t help, though the buzzword here is the economy. Our strong areas like Queens and Yonkers and in the city here, you mention the word boxing to them and they just get a shiver up their back. They are just sick of it.”

Did the promotional company ever consider slashing ticket prices in order to redress the slow sales and keep the show alive?

“No, everybody was buying $100 tickets, you know, and there were about 4,000 $100 tickets there, so even they weren’t going at the pace we wanted them to be going at,” McLoughlin said.

“The $50 tickets were the same, but we couldn’t take it back any less than that. There were 3,500–4,000 $100 tickets, and even if they had gone or even half of them had gone we would have been inclined to go with it.”

McLoughlin went on to add that Gleason’s gym, normally a fertile outlet for ticket sales, had dried up this time around.  Also, the numbers on ticketmaster.com were discouraging. 

The last time Irish Ropes had a show like this two years ago, sales on ticketmaster.com tallied between $180,000 -$190,000.  Before the cancellation on Thursday online sales were between $12,000 and $15,000, he says.

McLoughlin is trying to keep perspective on all of this. “Ninety percent of the world is in the same situation as I am today. There is an economic crisis out there. I saw Warren Buffett this morning on the TV saying that the world economy has fallen off the cliff, and I am just one of the casualties,” he says.

Though he admits that he won’t hold a show in the near future, McLoughlin does not see this as the end.

“Maybe another protégé will come along, who knows. This boxing is like a drug; you always get a longing to get back into it again, and I am sure that this longing isn’t going to quench because of this recent upheaval.”

As the Irish Voice went to press on Tuesday, light welterweight Danny O’Connor (4-0) and super featherweight Eddie Hyland (11-1, 3 KOs) are the only fighters apart from Andy Lee to have secured alternate fights.  Both will head to Massachusetts to fight on the card at the Dorchester Armory on Saturday night.

Hyland will fight Alex Perez (23-33-4) in a scheduled six rounder, and O’Connor will fight in a four round contest.

Heading the card in Dorchester is Eddie’s brother, featherweight Patrick Hyland (15-0, 8 KOs), who will fight Carlos Guevara (12-8-2, 9 KOs) in a 10 round feature for the IBA International Super Featherweight title.

Also on the card is Cork light middleweight Gary “Spike” O’Sullivan (6-0, 5 KOs), who will fight Jimmy LeBlanc (12-15-4, 4 KOs) in a scheduled eight rounder. Irish American super middleweight Dan Conway will make his pro debut. Tickets are still available by calling 508-746-0176.

In other boxing news, Olympic silver medalist Kenny Egan, who spent time in New York after going AWOL last week, has pulled out of his rematch with Chinese Olympic champion Xiaoping Zhang on the undercard of Bernard Dunne’s world title fight on March 21. 

Fellow Olympic medalist Darren Sutherland (2-0, 2 KOs), who won a bronze in Beijing and turned pro straight after the Games, notched up his second win as a professional super middleweight last Friday when he stopped Siarhei Navarka in the third round in Wigan.

According to boxrec.com, John Duddy (26-0) will fight Billy Lyell (18-7, 3 KOs) at the Prudential Center in Newark on April 24 in a 10 round fight at middleweight. A press conference will be held on St. Patrick’s Day at Legends Bar in midtown to confirm full details of the fight.

Tickets for the fight at the Prudential Center are available by calling Greg McIntyre at 917-528-7379 or Barney Moore at 917-559-8467.

Matthew Macklin (23-3,16 KOs), whose parents are from Tipperary and Roscommon, will fight Wayne Elcock (19-3,19 KOs) for the British middleweight title this Saturday night in Birmingham. Both men are from the Birmingham area, and this has developed into a grudge match with both fighters trading jibes in the press