Oisin Fagan (23-6) and Eddie Hyland (12-1) will fight for the vacant IBF International title at the National Basketball Arena in Dublin on July 25.
Hyland was originally meant to face Yogli Herrera in the title fight, but once that fell through and Fagan’s name was mentioned as a possible opponent, the current Irish super featherweight champion jumped at the chance, as did Fagan.
For Fagan, this fight comes as great news. In December, he broke his left leg in the first round against Amir Khan, and though he fought on valiantly, his leg buckled under him every time he put weight on it and the fight was stopped in the second round.
Some hard rehab and fitness training saw him make a winning return against Bulgarian Assen Vasilev on May 23, and though he won well (stopping his opponent in the fifth), it was hard to see where his career could go from there. This match up has changed everything.
“It (this fight) will totally put me back in the mix. It will put me in the top 10 or 12 in the world. It is a massive fight for me,” Fagan told the Irish Voice.
The two have a history of sparring together, and Fagan has a lot of time for his opponent.
“It is one that I am not taking lightly, and I want this to be the making of me. I have loads of respect for Eddie; we used to be sparring partners, and when we were in sparring with each other we used to knock the crap out of each other,“ said Fagan.
“I’m just hoping it is going to be an epic battle, one of those Gatti/Ward type fights.”
The former Oklahoma-based schoolteacher and former Irish light welterweight champion normally campaigns as a lightweight, but feels his natural fitness and almost manic training habits will see him burn the last few pounds down to get to the 130 pound limit.
Fagan has gone the distance with former world champion Paul Spadafora and top prospects Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and Verquan Kimbrough. Before the Khan fight he had never been stopped.
Hyland won the Irish title off Kevin O’Hara with a unanimous win and has not fought someone with Fagan’s experience before. The 35-year-old veteran believes this will be a key factor in the fight.
“I think it is a very brave move and I am thankful for the opportunity, but I think that they are after making a mistake and I just think they might live to rue that mistake. I think it is a very dangerous fight for him,” he said.
“As his da, Paddy, who is also his manager, said he was looking for a very big fight and this is a step-up for Eddie, and as much respect as I have for him, I think it is a step too far.
“I think he is the pup coming along, and I am the old dog on the street. I am just going to bring him into a war that he hasn’t been in before. I’d be the biggest name on his resume whereas I have fought world champions, and in that sense I am going to come out and bring him into deep waters.”
Phil Sutcliffe will train Fagan for the fight and it will be a real derby matchup as both men are from Tallaght.
Hyland will fight to prove himself and Fagan now has the opportunity to show the world that the Khan fight was not a true reflection of what he is capable of.
In other news, three-time trainer of the year Freddie Roach has taken on the role as co-manager as well as trainer to Dublin light welterweight Dean Byrne (11-0).
The 24-year-old Crumlin native will be co-managed by Steve Fader and Roach and could be back in the ring later in the summer.
“Possibly August,” Byrne told the Irish Voice. “I’ll leave it to Steve and Freddie to decide what is best for me.”
Byrne, who works out of the Wild Card gym in Hollywood, sprained his left hand in his last fight against Jose Reynoso on May 1, but should be back to full health in the next two-three weeks as the injury has responded well to physio and rest.
In the meantime he has been keeping fit and is happy that Roach has taken on a managerial role in his career.
“I am delighted that Freddie has come on board as it show that he believes in me,” he said.
Finally, super middleweight Darren Sutherland (4-0) continued his winning ways last Tuesday night when he TKO’ed Gennadiy Rasalev (3-1) in the fourth round of a scheduled six round contest.
Sutherland was meant to fight again in July 10 in Sunderland but a cut cheek has put paid to those plans.