All five of the nine fighters from Ireland’s top amateur boxing club that entered the ring emerged victorious at the well-attended Irish-American Society show dubbed the “Battle of the Isles.”
Stylish All-Irish champion Keith Boyle, who’s 16, set the tempo for the youthful visitors with a points decision over 15-year-old Michael Cunningham in a three-round 140-pound contest.
Cunningham, brought in from Albany to test Boyle, held his own at times but was outworked down the stretch.
St. Saviour’s other teenage 140-pounder, Cormac O’Connaire, also eked out a decision over unorthodox southpaw Tommy Raionni after switching tactics midway through their four-rounder.
“The guy was very awkward and difficult to set up for punches,” said O’Connaire, a five-time Irish titlist coming off a two-year break. “I changed tactics last two rounds, went to my back foot [counterpunching] and was able to connect.”
At 152 pounds, Kevin Cumiskey, the most experienced St. Saviour’s boxer with more than 60 fights, dominated Julio Orozco over three heats, while lanky light heavyweight Gerry Hussey, a last-minute stand-in for Sean Og O’Grady, dropped Angelo Maddox in the opening stanza en route to a four-round decision.
“I had big shoes to fill. Sean is well respected in Ireland and a big puncher,” said the 24-year-old Hussey, who will receive a Master’s degree in psychotherapy from Trinity College this May. He improved to 41-7.
In the last bout of the night, heavyweights Paddy Gallagher and Tommy Delvecchio engaged in a thrilling back-and-forth brawl before the latter, aided by a right to the chin from Gallagher, collapsed from sheer exhaustion, a minute into the fourth and final round.
“He was very powerful and had a good right hook that I was watching for. A straight right on the chin put him down,” Gallagher, whose record is now 6-6, said.
Dean Murphy, a European Championship bronze medallist tipped to make the Irish Olympic side next year, and young Keith Doddy both cheered on their compatriots but were disappointed that their bouts fell through.
Their opponents were among the four NYPD no-shows.
“I only found out 20 minutes before I was supposed to fight,” said Murphy, a 17-year-old 118-pounder who sparred with 147-pounder Clyde Moran instead. “I traveled a long way here and wanted to show the American public my skills.”
Said Doddy, a seventh grader at Castleknock Community College that co-trainer James Halpin calls “80 pounds of dynamite”: “I’m really disappointed. They should have had a match before we came over to find me an opponent.”
Halpin said he couldn’t emphasize enough how good Murphy and Boyle were, while regretting that the public wasn’t able to watch the former in a real fight.
Thomas Ahearn and Cathal O’Grady were the other coaches with the St. Saviour’s club.
Ron Lovell, who co-promoted the event along with Gerry Cooney and Lee Packtor, was delighted with its success.
“We’ll do more of this. It’s a good way to start the Irish weekend,” he said.
A huge fan of English light welterweight Ricky Hatton, the 4-feet-10 Keith Doddy is the younger by six minutes of twin brothers. The other twin, Darren, who is 2 inches taller and 19 pounds heavier, will soon take up the sport, too.
Asked if she approved of her sons boxing, mother Anne, who was at the show with her lads, replied: “Absolutely. It’s great discipline for children and the coaches are absolutely brilliant.”
The show was dedicated to 9/11 victim Matthew O’Mahony, a former boxer and Long Island good guy who worked for Cantor Fitzgerald.
“He’d called me that morning after the planes hit. He said I just want you to know that I love you,” his mother, Helen, recalled wistfully after another son, Steven, had performed the 10-count on the fight bell, boxing’s traditional homage to a fallen member.
Matthew, Steven and another O’Mahony brother, Johnny, all boxed in the amateurs with Johnny once winning an Empire Games title and reaching the semifinals of the Golden Gloves. A fourth O’Mahony brother, Robert, also attended the Mineola show.