Led to the ring by John Duddy, Rea produced a Duddy-like display to score three knockdowns, including an overhand right and left hook that dropped Phelps for the last time in the scheduled four-round super middleweight contest.
Phelps, who tasted the canvas once from a barrage of blows in the first round, beat the count but was saved from further punishment by the referee. The TKO upped the Ballymena-born Rea’s pro ledger to 4-0 with three knockouts.
“He was putting everything in his combinations and looked very good,” said Kurt Remlinger, Rea’s assistant trainer.
The 21-year-old, now fighting out South Boston, was seven pounds lighter than the 174 he weighed a week earlier in Dorchester when he stepped in for the injured Paschal Collins and stopped Lowe in three heats.
“We hope that when he fights again in May he’ll be down to middleweight,” said Remlinger, Goody Petronelli’s right hand man. “He’ll do excellent at 160 [pounds] because he’s got speed and his power will be greater.”
Further proof that the explosive Duddy has become a hero to other Irish fighters in the U.S. came at the New Haven show, where Rea asked him to walk him to the ring and the undefeated middleweight received a huge ovation from the crowd.
“Joe was really excited to hear that John Duddy was at the fight and asked John to lead him out,” Remlinger said. “John is an inspiration to him.” Apparently, the two prizefighters lived 20 minutes apart in Ireland but had not met until last week.
Duddy and his Irish Ropes promoter Eddie McLoughlin will be at the Golden Gloves finals at Madison Square Garden’s theater this Friday night, rooting for another Duddy fan, Dan O’Regan in the 178-pound open final.
McLoughlin will be attending the Gloves finals for the first time since leading his one-time Irish hope, Alo Kelly, to the light heavyweight championship match in the 1998 tournament.
Should O’Regan upset William Rosinsky he will become the first Irish-born fighter to win the Gloves’ light heavyweight open title in 77 years, according to McLoughlin.
“The last Irish boxer to win the Golden Gloves light heavyweight open title was Dick Kearns in 1928.,” said McLoughlin, whose father, Tony, died two months ago. “My father used to talk about him. [Kearns] was in the Irish Army and from County Mayo. Seamus McDonagh won as a novice and another guy from Offly won as a novice, too.”
Members of Cosmopolitan Soccer League First Division side Lansdowne Bhoys will also be at the Garden to cheer on O’Regan.
The boxer, a carpenter by trade, is a co-worker of Paul Doherty, Lansdowne’s coach, and some of the players at Complete Construction, owned by Frank Terry and Tom McEnvoy, whose other employees will also be in the house.
The first bout will be at 7:30 p.m.