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Fitzpatrick to make a fresh start with new team

Joe Fitzpatrick with Dennis Morrison from Boxing Ireland Promotions on Monday Joe Fitzpatrick with Dennis Morrison from Boxing Ireland Promotions on Monday
By David Mohan

IT’S a new beginning for Joe Fitzpatrick as the Divis man gets ready to restart his career under new management.

The silver medalist from the 2014 Commonwealth Games penned a management deal with Boxing Ireland Promotions at Sylvester’s Café on the Antrim Road on Monday as he looks to get a career back on track that he admitted had come off the rails.

‘The Dragon’ made his debut in June 2015 and would fight five times over the next 12 months, winning all.

There were another two victories in November 2016 and February 2017 before things began to come apart as he was out of action until October of that year – recording a stoppage against Mwenya Chisanga at the SSE Arena – that has proved to be the last time the former Immaculata amateur stepped through the ropes.

A Facebook post late last year saw the 24 year-old lightweight prospect admit he had chosen the wrong path in life since, losing discipline as his career ground to a halt.

After much soul searching, the vastly talented southpaw signalled his intention to get things back on track and he has done so with a complete overhaul of his team, prompting an amicable split with former manager Mark Dunlop and leaving his old Mac training base to work with Sean McCullagh.

“It’s a clean slate,” he said as he put pen to paper on Monday.

“Hopefully I can get a fight in March and go from there.

“I was in a bad place, drinking and partying. I knew I needed a clean slate with a new coach and new management. This is a fresh start for me, so hopefully I will get my career back on track.”

Fitzpatrick will headline Boxing Ireland’s first Belfast show in their ‘Celtic Clash’ series in May with the date and venue yet to be confirmed, but he plans to get himself into Irish title contention as quickly as possible.

“I’ll have a fight here in May and that should get the rust off,” he confirmed.

“After that, I want to go for the Irish title and take it from there.

“I was due to fight Stephen Webb (at the Ulster Hall last weekend) so I want to get that fight on and then look to fight for the Irish title as quickly as I can. I don’t want to be fighting the journeymen anymore. I want the big fights now.”

Dennis Morrison from Boxing Ireland Promotions was on hand on Monday to welcome their latest addition to the stable.

With plans to make shows in the city a more regular occurrence, Fitzpatrick is the man they think who can help lead the charge.

“He’s a tremendous talent and he can go very far,” said Morrison who suggested their latest signing could be in action as soon as next month.

“There are local fights to be made. If Stephen Webb still wants the fight – brilliant – we can get that on straight away.

“(Feargal) McCrory – I don’t know whether he will defend the Irish title or vacate and move on. Even down the line, there are the likes of Karl Kelly, Niall O’Connor, Stephen Ormond and loads of other fighters in the south.

“Belfast is booming, so it’s just about working around the other promoters.”

For Fitzpatrick, the chance of topping a card in his home town and rebuilding his career has given him added incentive and he said he is ready to get back in the ring and start doing what he does best.

“I have never headlined a show before so it will be good,” he agreed.

“That helps bring a crowd and build a fan-base. I’ve had great sparring with Anthony Cacace. I’m ready to go now. I’m always training and ready to fight.”

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