Sunday 26 March 2017

Boxing: 'Big Bang' Casey eyes title shot after stunning success

Bernard O'Neill

LIMERICK'S Willie Casey is eyeing up a tilt at a European title following his stunning victory on the Prizefighter Super-Bantamweight series in London on Saturday night.

Casey, nicknamed 'Big Bang', walked away with a purse worth just over €37,500 after sensationally winning three fights in a row at York Hall.

The unbeaten Shannonsider was crowned Prizefighter champion live on Sky Sports after earning a unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28) over Scotland's Paul McElhinney.

McElhinney, however, won't have been too disappointed with the loss as he walked away with almost €19,000 for just nine minutes' work.

The Scottish puncher hit the jackpot after he won a toss of a coin to replace original finalist Rickey Owen of Wales, who was ruled out because of a cut above his right eye.

Casey, who stretched his unbeaten run to eight (five KO's) with Saturday's hat-trick, was a late replacement for ex-world champ Wayne McCullough, who pulled out of the one-night Barry Hearn series through injury.

Torrid

The 28-year-old Limerick ace stopped Liverpool southpaw Mark Moran in the third round of their quarter-final and then edged out Barnsley's Josh 'Outlaw' Wale on a split decision in a torrid semi-final.

Wale beat former European and British champ Esham Pickering -- who dropped his European belt to Bernard Dunne in Dublin in 2007 -- on a split decision in the quarter-finals of the eight-man series.

Speaking after his victory, Casey, who fought out of the Our Lady of Lourdes club in Limerick as a amateur, said that 'Big Bang' was now on the map. "The best in Britain were in this competition, including Esham Pickering and Jamie Arthur, but I'm the one left standing," he said.

"Who knows what the future holds? I might get a shot at the European title after winning Prizefighter. I'm very proud of everything I've done.

"He (McElhinney) was a little bit fresher coming in and he was tough, a good lad. But, at the end of the day, the 'Big Bang' wins.

"When I was preparing for this, the money was the least of my worries. It was all about the trophy and the big names -- now I'm up there."

Former Irish champion Phil Sutcliffe, who manages Casey along with Don O'Leary (DolPhil promotions), said they were delighted with the victory.

And Sutcliffe, who has the distinction of winning two European bronze medals for Ireland on both sides of the Berlin Wall in West and East Germany in 1977 and 1979, said they were working on a European title tilt.

"Willie was brilliant on Saturday night. He was an outsider going into Prizefighter, but he walked away with the top prize and he totally deserved it as he gave it everything," he said.

"Prizefighter bouts are over three, three-minute rounds and we had to work on the tactics. It was crucial he got off to a good start in each fight and that's exactly what he did -- he was sensational.

"He had to beat a fresh man in the final also. He did that after two tough contests in the quarter-finals and semi-finals, so he totally deserved this win and he deserves all the praise that comes his way."

He added: "We're already working on getting Willie a European title shot and we're looking at the possibility of putting on that show in either Limerick or Ennis later this year."

Irish Independent

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