By Jay Mwamba
Lightweight sensation Martin O’Malley will make his New York debut in the main event of the first outdoor boxing event in the city since the Ali-Norton fight 24 years ago, at Gaelic Park in the Bronx on Friday, July 21.
Super middleweight Joe "The Irish Terror" Hughes, from Stony Point in Rockland County, will also appear on the Rockall Promotions card, which will be laden with Irish talent. Both O’Malley’s and Hughes’ opponents will be
"This will be the first professional outdoor fight card in New York City since Muhammad Ali beat Ken Norton on September 28, 1976 in Yankee Stadium," Rockall’s Eddie McLoughlin said last weekend.
"Gaelic Park is excited to be hosting this out door boxing event and to feature boxing sensation Martin O’Malley in the main event," said Pat Dooley, general manager of Gaelic Park. "We’re excited to be hosting professional boxing again in Gaelic Park after an absence of 25 years."
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The Seattle-born O’ Malley, who is 13-0 (12 KOs), is coming off an impressive third-round TKO victory over Mexican veteran Pedro Garcia in Antigua last April that won him rave reviews from boxing experts.
"I got to see a young man who looks to be the Irishman that will carry the colors of the green and white in the new Millennium," said award-winning boxing journalist Pedro Fernandez of RingTalk.net, who was at ringside in Antigua. "Some call him the Roberto Duran with fair skin."
Added insider Lucius Shepard: "O’Malley has developed an extremely interesting ring presence. His aggression is something almost cobra like."
Now living in New York, O’Malley is a former amateur star who won a silver medal at the 1996 National Golden Gloves Championships. Joe Hughes, who will appear in the co-feature, is a popular New York native with a 19-2 (10 KOs) record.
"It’s great to be part of such a quality fight card, fighting in Gaelic Park, the home of the Irish," said Jim Fennell, Hughes’s manager.
Hughes, whose grandparents came from County Longford, hopes to fight for an Irish title soon on a future Rockall Promotions card.
Also scheduled on the undercard are Westmeath-born super-middleweight Alo Kelly in his professional debut, and the Galway-born Colm Keane.
Kelly has been a regular on the New York amateur scene, boxing with the Irish Ropes club in Queens. He is a former European amateur champion and New York Daily News Golden Gloves runner-up at 178 pounds.
Keane, meanwhile, is a recent addition to the Duva Boxing stable. He will be making his pro debut at the Melody Tent in Hyannis, Mass., later this month.
A quality amateur in Ireland, he moved to Dorchester, Mass., to train under Martin Grealish. Keane’s U.S. amateur record included a knockout victory over US Marine’s light heavyweight champion Chris Tillman.
"We know [trainer] Lou Duva is very high on Colm and we are happy to have him on the card," said event coordinator Martin Somers.
"We look forward to seeing Lou at Gaelic Park. Lou has always had more than a passing interest in Irish fighters. One of his first fighters was Dublin-born Christy Elliott."
Former Irish Ropes star and New York Golden Gloves champion Fari Diaz will also make his jump into the paid ranks at Gaelic Park. The bantamweight is trained by Neil Ferraro, who worked with ex-heavyweight contender Seamus McDonough.
Involved on the promotional side of the show is Irish-American Yonkers native Rich Ryan, an avid boxing memorabilia collector and Muhammad Ali buff who manages undefeated New York State Junior Lightweight champion Sensational Sencion (11-0, 8 KOs ), who legally changed his first name from Justo.
"I believe I have the largest Ali collection in the world; I also have everything from his fight in Dublin in 1972, and the fight in Yankee Stadium," Ryan said. "It’s special to be part of this the first out door card in New York City since Ali-Norton."
Rockall Promotions’ McLoughlin said this would be the first of several shows planned this year. "And we will be adding more exciting bouts to this card shortly," he added, while noting, "You can’t find a better combination than a hot summer evening and an electrifying outdoor boxing card in Gaelic Park."
The first bout will begin at 7:30 p.m. Doors open to the public at 6:30. Tickets are available at (914) 928-3944 or by logging onto www.celticwarriors.com. Prices range from $50 (Golden Ringside), $25 (Ringside), and $750 (VIP tables — 10).
Gaelic Park is at 240th and Broadway in the Bronx. The number 1 train stops two blocks from Gaelic Park.