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Apr 19th
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Home ARCHIVE
Champion returns to a hero’s welcome


Mayo boxer captures vacant world title

Reaction
Daniel Carey


HENRY Coyle returned home to a hero’s welcome in Geesala on Saturday after capturing the World Boxing Foundation light-middleweight title in Castlebar on Friday night.
Coyle justified his 1/6 favourite’s tag by beating Italian Elio Cotena at the TF Royal Theatre. Swiss referee Oliver Duetschler stopped the contest before a punch was thrown in the sixth round. Cotena sustained a deep cut above his eye, apparently after an accidental clash of heads. This prompted the ringside doctor to halt proceedings, and Coyle – who was ahead on points – was awarded the vacant title on a technical knockout.
“With the right people behind you, anything is possible,” the American-based Mayoman told an ecstatic crowd. “Thanks to everyone that believed in me … A big thanks to my father [Gerry] especially. And it could not have been done without all the guys in Chicago … when I was nothing over there … all the guys came out to see me fight … I was nothing, [but] because of them, tonight I’m a world champion.”
Coyle had the better of the contest – “I believe I won every single round” – and his every punch met with great approval from the partisan attendance. Anticipation grew after the third round, and by the fifth, spectators could sense that the end was nigh, as blood was clearly visible under the right eye of the Mediterranean champion, who was seeking his 19th victory in what was his 29th professional bout. After the contest was stopped, Coyle was lifted shoulder high, and the crowd went ballistic.
Interviewed on TG4 by Seán Bán Breathnach, Coyle agreed it was particularly special to win the belt in his own back yard. “There’s nowhere like Mayo,” he said. “There was a bookmaker giving a million to one on [Enda] Kenny being Taoiseach, Mayo winning Sam, and Coyle winning the world title. We’ve two of the three!”
WBF belts are often a “stepping-stone” for fighters who progress to more prestigious titles. That was the phrase used afterwards by Coyle, who also called it “another part of the jigsaw”. He dedicated his victory (the 16th of an 18-bout career) to departed relatives and friends, and spoke fondly of his 96-year-old grandmother, who followed the bout at home.
On Saturday, he walked with the belt over the musical bridge in Bellacorick, the traditional gateway to Erris, and noted happily: “The hard work has paid off … There’ll be a good story told yet!”


Coyle hits harder than ever to take title back to Erris


Analysis
Austin Garvin


THE TF Royal Theatre has played host to some great nights down the years. But for sheer drama, has there ever been one to equal the one that unfolded last Friday?
The night had everything; a huge vocal crowd, six interesting bouts, numerous celebrities, and Henry Coyle winning the WBF light-middleweight title in the midst of his own people. And what a performance he put on in taking home the title to the barony of Erris.
The acid test of any sportsman is to perform at one’s peak under pressure. Henry Coyle passed that test with flying colours on Friday in delivering the finest performance of his life.
From start to finish, he dictated the trend and the pace of the fight. He held the centre of the ring throughout and took the fight to Italian Elio Cotena from the first bell. In the early part of the fight he concentrated on the Italian’s body, with much success. Gradually, he used his potent left lead to Cotena’s head.
In the past there have been questions concerning Coyle’s defence, on this occasion he dispelled such doubts. On delivering his own shots he quickly held his hands high in blocking his opponent’s punches. One could see the Neapolitan’s confidence drain as the fight progressed, particularly as he was making little headway against an aggressive and well-prepared opponent.
The Geesala man also seemed to hit much harder that ever before. There was definitely much more variety to his punches. In addition to a rapier-like left lead, he scored very well with left and right hooks to the body throughout. The punches drained the energy and the resolve from Cotena and set up the early stoppage due to a badly-cut right eye.
The scenes that greeted the stoppage will forever linger in the memory. A world title rests on the shoulders of one of the nicest people to adorn the noble art.

ELSEWHERE, Finbarr Eade narrowly missed out in his fight with Mickey Coveney for the Irish super-featherweight title. The Westport man seemed very unlucky to lose this fight 96-95. He started a little tentatively, but finished strongly and was scoring freely with a greater variety of punches when the fight ended. The least he deserves is a return bout and a chance to set the record straight.
The light-heavyweight bout between Michael ‘The Storm’ Sweeney and John Waldron failed to ignite. Sweeney was far more aggressive from the start. He took the fight to Waldron and offloaded many more punches before the stoppage after the third round due to Waldron’s badly-closed left eye.


Eade seeks rematch after narrow defeat


Daniel Carey

WESTPORT’S Finbarr Eade is to seek a rematch after losing 96-95 to London-based Mickey Coveney in the Irish super-featherweight title bout in Castlebar on Friday.
Eade said there was “not a hope” of him retiring after his first professional defeat, which came at the end of the closest contest of the six-bout bill. “I thought I had it,” said the Eagle Boxing Club man, who said he was “in shock” after a fight which saw both boxers celebrate when the final bell rang.
Roared on by a large number of supporters, Eade lost the early rounds but had the upper hand in the closing stages, and thought he had done enough to ensure the belt didn’t leave the country. Asked if he would ‘go again’, he replied: “I’m 36. It’s my seventh fight and I did ten rounds with a title challenger. I can’t give up.”
Meanwhile, Michael Sweeney revealed that he has “an opportunity” to fight for the European light-heavyweight title after beating John Waldron on Friday night.
The Ballinrobe man was “delighted” to emerge victorious from his bout with Ballyhaunis native Waldron, whose left eye was cut in round three. The referee stopped the contest on doctor’s advice before the start of the fourth.



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