This one has the makings to be one of ‘the’ famous All-Irish rivalries. The tensions are high. The keyboards are been battered. The hatred is real.
Earlier this week, it was announced that Declan Geragthy had pulled out of his scheduled rematch with bitter rival and fellow countryman, Jono Carroll. The 126lbs pair were due to meet on the undercard of Carl Frampton’s Belfast ‘Homecoming’ show, but a recurring hand injury sustained by Geraghty has pushed the fight back to next year at the earliest.
Speaking exclusively to FightTalk.net, Carroll and Geraghty both give their view on the week’s drama. Make your own judgement…
‘’There’s not a whole lot to say. It’s all been said on Facebook’’, Geraghty explained, following an intense few days of online ‘back and forth’ with Carroll and his fans.
‘’At the end of the day, my hand is injured. I can’t go into a 12-round fight with one hand. It’s on my vlog, you can see how swollen it is, it’s still swollen now after all the resting. I could only spar once every two weeks. I had to keep letting the swelling go down. I couldn’t do pads, I couldn’t do bag. The only thing I could do is the foam roller so there was no impact on the hand, so it was not great preparation for a fight.’’
The first meeting between the pair was a barnstormer whilst it landed. A bout which claimed the coveted ‘Irish Fight of the Year’ award in 2014, saw Carroll emerge victorious with a DQ win over the then unbeaten Geraghty.
The first bout was a tornado whilst it lasted. An all out war, which culminated with a controversial stoppage, with the referee deeming Geraghty had used his head one too many times. Fight fans were left clamouring for a second meeting following the fireworks of the first, and a televised slot on the Boxnation/BT card in Belfast was set to play the perfect stage for ‘round 2’.
‘’It was too big of a fight to go in with one hand. The good thing is, that people are talking about. People from both sides are talking, arguing about this, that and the other. It’s still unfinished business. I put a post. Because I knew he would say something. He said ‘if you fuck it up now…’, ‘you don’t deserve a chance’ or something like that. That’s what happened with the purses. He put his purse up. I put my purse up, and the winner would take all.’’
Following the announcement of the cancellation, Team Carroll set foot on the offensive. Fiery exchanges across all social media only poured petrol on the already white-hot tension which separated the pair. Geraghty had strong words of his own…
‘’If he thinks I’m backing out of a fight… I have been fighting since I was a kid. Where I’m from is a rough area, its second nature for us kids growing up. There was no difference between me and my next-door neighbour, everyone was used to fighting. There is no difference from fighting him and fighting anyone else, it’s a second nature. And we are fighters and we do love to fight.’’
The public want the fight. The fighters want the fight. There is no way Jono Carroll and Declan Geraghty won’t meet again.
‘’Listen, I hope he doesn’t lose next weekend when he fights. He’s saying he will still fight me, so hopefully will get rearranged for next year and get a date as soon as my hand is right. Maybe January, February, March at the latest, I can go straight in. He can have this fight and the next fight can straight into a big fight.’’
Check out Declan’s video statement on his injury:
‘’I don’t need a warm up. I want the fight. I believe I can beat him. I believe there is absolutely loads of holes in his defence. I watched him fight Quigley, and how much he was getting clocked by silly punches. I believe he is something he is not, and his ego is going to get him hurt. His ego is going to lose his ‘0’. He’s been getting a lot of stick off my fans. I’ve been getting a lot of stick off his fans. So, he is biting so much at it, he will take the fight. So, his ego is going to make him take the fight. I believe the fight is going to happen. Rescheduled for next year. That’s the plan.’’
Jono Carroll entered into the first fight as the unknown quantity. The 2-0 mystery man who had been plying his trade in the obscurity of Australia, was the late step in for the hotly tipped Declan Geraghty. Now IBF European Super Featherweight champion and still unbeaten as a professional, Carroll holds all the cards, and settled in as he began explaining his take on events.
‘’He pulled out with a hand problem just like I said he would. I feel fine. I have beenn expecting this for a long time now. I’ve said it at the start of camp I’m shocked he took it in the first place but then after all the talking how could he not. Then I said he will pull out and he did.’’
A blockbuster encounter with John Quigley in June continued to cement ‘King Kong’s’ reputation for delivering an edge of the seat boxing experience for fans. Following on from a chat we had back in September, Carroll continued to elaborate on where the anger in the pull-out has stemmed.
‘’I’m just upset for the fans. I don’t care about Deco. Fighting him won’t help my career. I said it in an interview at the start of the camp that this is one for the fans. This fight wasn’t helping my career in any rankings. But I was trying to give the fans what they wanted to see so unfortunately that hasn’t happened, but I wanted the fight for them. Because it’s what they wanted but it’s out of my hands so what can I do.’’
Both men are signed to the MTK management roster. Now, this may be seen as a blessing and a curse. In terms of making a fight, both men working with the same group drastically reduces the unwanted ‘politics’ which often ruins the sport. On the flip side, neutrality must be a nightmare to sustain, especially when dealing with two men who clearly do not like each other.
‘’I don’t have a replacement opponent just yet because it’s all been left so late. So, I’m just staying positive and hoping that my team sort that out ASAP. But they are also in a hard place because they put a lot of work into making this fight happen and making sure it was on TV. So now there trying to find me a good opponent but it’s very hard on such short notice.’’
The ‘he said, she said’ attitude can only get a fighter so far. Annoyances aside, Jono Carroll still has a place on the Belfast bill, and was already pushing thoughts of Geraghty to the back of his mind as he looks to resettle and reapply for the new task in hand.
‘’Thoughts are stay positive and focus on the job in hand. I still have a job to do in a weeks’ time so I have to mentally stay switched on and keep my head in the game. I’m not getting into a childish argument on Facebook. Everyone can say what they want but at the end of the day I’m here ready to fight. I’ve wanted this fight but like I said it’s out of my hands. So, I’m just trying to put it all behind me and be as professional as I can.’’
The resentment runs deeper by the day. Both men will be present at the SSE next weekend, and something tells me that there will be no warm embrace of welcome. The rematch is off for now, but everything tells me that it is a case of ‘’when not if.’’
Written by Thomas Humber