Dean Byrne hungry to fight following Horta setback
Livefight.com chats to Dean Byrne.
The afternoon of Friday, October 28th, 2011 – a week after maintaining his professional unbeaten record with win number fifteen, Dean Byrne was sat at home still basking in the fruits of his labour.
Unknown to him the British boxing media were feverishly trying to find out why Frankie Gavin had walked out on a fight with Frank Haroche Horta due to take place that night.
Then, an unexpected phone call…
“Dean Powell rang me,” Byrne recalled. “It was out the blue and having fought the previous Friday I was having a week out the gym. I’d been stuffing my face so I wasn’t living the life.”
Frank Warren’s matchmaker was asking almost the unthinkable. With Gavin going MIA, Byrne was asked to step in at the shortest of notice to replace the mercurial Midlander.
“It was one of those opportunities that came up that felt right at the time. It was actually a good bit of money to help over Christmas and New Year to feed my family so I made the decision,” he explained.
Byrne would later confess to me that taking the fight was “not the smartest thing to do.” A combination of trying to lose weight via the sauna, not having been 12 rounds before and no southpaw preparation for his opponent would ultimately lead to a valiant defeat. When asked if he would do it again, the response was simple.
“I’m a fighter and we fight, that’s what we do.”
“I would do the same again but I probably wouldn’t jump in the sauna. I’d probably tell them to take the fight at whatever weight I was at!”
With that episode put firmly behind him the 27-year old can look ahead to his assault on 2012 with a possible place on the undercard of the Groves-Anderson rematch, on March 16th at Wembley Arena.
And despite suffering the first defeat if his professional career “Irish Lightning” is in no hurry to swim in deep waters again for a while.
“I’m eager to prove a point in one sense but in another sense I’m not in a hurry to jump straight in head first,” Byrne said.
“I done that last time coz I was stuck and I needed the money but I’m alright now and comfortable at the minute. I’ll prove my point along the way I just have to climb up the ladder, take my time and get ready for the opponents along the way.”
Ever since his fighting days in Australia and America, the light-welterweight has occasionally taken on challenges that some would see as a step too far. Nothing will ever change on that front and from the tone in which he said “I’m a fighter and we fight…” certainly said to me that he’s willing to take on all-comers no matter the challenge they present.
The decision to begin his professional career down under may seem a peculiar one but Byrne had originally emigrated there after the Irish National Championships. He then turned professional in 2006. It was a country that suited him and speaking to one legendary Australian trainer sealed the deal.
“I liked Australia it was always a good place to go. When I boxed as an amateur I met up with Johnny Lewis (Kostya Tszyu’s trainer) he had a talk with me and said would you like to come over and turn professional and that was it. I trained with Johnny Lewis and decided to stay there.”
And his professional debut sparked a jovial tale from the charismatic Dubliner. In which he rightly corrected this writer (who thought his first three fights were against the same man!)
“No, no my first fight was against a Filipino and the second fight was his brother!! I then fought the second guy again in my third fight”, laughed Byrne in clearing up the confusion
“They were brothers,” said Byrne continuing to chuckle at the story.
“I think I fought four or five Filipinos in all and I’m sure they were all related! I’m surprised Manny (Pacquiao) didn’t want to come along and have a go coz I was bashing them all up. It was a good learning curve. Not many fighters start off at six rounds and not many Australians would take on them little Filipinos coz they could punch. I stepped up in my second or third fight coz they had big records. I got a good bit of experience out of those Filipinos… tough warriors they are too.”
He would then go on to win the Australian light-welterweight title in only his fifth contest putting the champion, Chris McCullen, down in the opening round en route to a points victory.
With anecdotes from Oz concluded, Byrne’s travelling stories took us to America and sparring at the renowned Wildcard Gym.
“That was a really good experience. I sparred with some of the best fighters in the world and some guys that haven’t got big names and those guys were probably better than those that were the best in the world. That’s just boxing and its politics you know? That’s the way it goes ain’t it?”
Now training out of the TKO Gym working alongside the Tibbs’ brothers and having promoter Frank Warren behind him, Byrne remains confident that all the sacrifices will pay off but is realistic enough to admit that at the end of the day it’s he that has to deliver.
“It all takes good management, a good team behind me but the rest is up to me you know?” Byrne admitted.
“Frank told me he appreciates what I did and that he’ll look after me. He appreciates me taking one for the team and stepping up and said - “If there were more fighters like me his job would be a lot easier” - so hopefully he sticks to his word and looks after me and gets me to where I should be and want to be.”
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