RAY Moylette has vowed to prove he’s the best light-welterweight boxer in Ireland ahead of next week’s ‘box off’ which will decide whether he goes to the world championships in Azerbaijan next month.
The Irish Amateur Boxing Association announced on Saturday that European light-welterweight champion Moylette would face national champion Ross Hickey on Friday week, September 2 for the right to represent Ireland in Baku.
The world championship serves as an Olympic qualifier. Moylette’s status as a European champion would guarantee him a seeded place at the competition – but now the St Anne’s, Westport clubman has to beat army man Hickey to get a seat on the plane.
Speaking from a training camp in Italy last night (Monday), Moylette was philosophical when asked how he felt about the controversy.
“I suppose I don’t really have much choice now,” he told The Mayo News. “But at the end of the day, Ireland should send off the best boxers to assure them of Olympic qualification. I suppose I just have to go and prove now that I am the best. That’s all I can do really. I [could] go a bit mental ... about it, but at the end of the day, I’m going to have to get into the ring and do the business.”
Moylette and Hickey both learned the news while in Italy from Billy Walsh, head coach of the IABA Head Performance Unit, following an IABA meeting in Dublin. Four boxers were told they wouldn’t be travelling to Baku, two of whom have opted to return home, while Moylette and Hickey now find themselves in limbo.
“It’s a bit strange all right,” Islandeady native Moylette said. “But myself and Ross [Hickey] are training … we’re getting on with our work … he’s feeling the same as I’m feeling … I just want to get into the ring now.
“I was half-thinking of going home as well and training in St Anne’s, but … I [decided] to stay here for the sparring, because I obviously wouldn’t have the selection of sparring partners that I have here,” he added, explaining that boxers from Azerbaijan, Italy, Ukraine and Estonia have joined the Irish in camp.
Moylette had his first spar since winning the European title yesterday (Monday), having been resting an injured hand since his success in Turkey. The ‘severe bruising, close to fracture’ caused him to miss the recent national ‘box-off’ won by Hickey, who also secured the Irish 64kg title in February. But despite the short timeframe, the former world champion remains confident – “ I’ve done it before, coming back from injury, so hopefully I can do it again”.
Those at the eight-day training camp return from Italy next Saturday, and Moylette will spend next week plotting “tactics and a game-plan” with his coaches ahead of the event on September 2. Remarkably, he and Hickey have never boxed each other competitively, though they have sparred together.
“That’s where the box-off came from … how could they compare the two of us when we never fought? It just came down to that. We’ve sparred together, but a fight is a different atmosphere,” said the Mayoman.