“Woodsy, you stay off the Guinness now,” boxer Patrick Hyland cautioned on Wednesday, the day before St Patrick's Day, our nation's excuse to give the Irish a shoutout, and boost sales of corned beef, beer and Shamrock Shakes.
He chuckled and I returned the favor.
“Steer clear the beer, son!”
“Maybe just one…good for iron content,” the featherweight hitter from Ireland, promoted by Lou Dibella, cracked.
“No, I'm training hard for this April 16 title shot against Gary Russell,” he said.
Russell, age 27, is a 26-1 lefty hitter with lightning fists.
Hyland (31-1; lives in Tallaght in Dublin with wife and son) is unfailingly polite and ultra amiable. The boxer nicknamed “The Punisher” doesn't publicly get into moods, get cranky. But there is the mildest of edges to him when he ponders the lack of coverage of his quest from the local press.
“Most people know this but this day 5 weeks from now I will be main event on ShowTime TV in America fighting for the WBC world championship! Just to update all my friends as the lack of media coverage I'm getting in Ireland is a joke, this is a big deal in the States and if I'm correct when I win I'll be second Irish man ever to hold WBC belt,” he posted to Facebook last week. “I have a great group of friends and family would have my back from day one would really believe in me that I can do this and come home Champ. I really want to thank them, they know what they are!”
I followed up a few days after that post…Has the press there woken up?
“A (few outlets do coverage) but the major ones are all up their ass…but they are starting to cover it now!”
There will be a decently sized and vocal contingent of Hylanders trying to propel their guy at Foxwoods in Connecticut come fight night, right?
“Yes sir, I have good few flying over and a load from Marlboro, NY coming,” he told me, which had me recalling his Snooki Boxing stint which saw him stationed in northern NY.
It'll be a hard lift, downing the champ. Russell is a slick lefty with way above average hand speed. He is a superior athlete to Hyland, in the context of fast twitch musculature and reflexes and such. But sometimes heart and will trump skill. Hyland is the sort of ambassador to the sport which could make you cross fingers that will be the case April 16. Then, Guinnesses galore.