Former Sandy Row amateur faces NI Area title shot on undercard of Rogan v Fury blockbuster

Hillerby keeping the faith ahead of Odyssey showdown

By David Mohan

FOLLOWING his one round demolition of Alesandrs Radjuks at the Emerald Roadhouse in February, Joe Hillerby (6-0) declared that 2012 would be the year when he makes the breakthrough.

On Saturday night at the Odyssey, the former Sandy Row ABC star has the opportunity to take another step towards stardom when he takes on Ballyclare’s Willie Thompson for the Northern Ireland Area light-middleweight title.

In what is sure to be a raucous atmosphere at the Odyssey, Hillerby remains unfazed and indeed takes confidence from his defeat of Tommy Tolan on another huge night for local boxing at the King’s Hall back in September on Tyson Fury’s last appearance in the city.

“I can’t wait. There is going to be 8,000 people there so it will be buzzing,” he said.

“That just makes you want it more. The buzz that night (at the King’s Hall) was great and from then I have come on a lot more.”

Having switched his training base to Gleann ABC under the watchful eye of Paul McCullagh, ‘The Faith’ has joined a stable of up and coming Belfast pugilists, which helps when putting in the hard yards as each is there to support and motivate one another.

 

Positive

There is certainly a positive atmosphere in the camp with all fighters producing the goods since they gathered under the Emerald Promotions banner, and now Hillerby can boost morale even further if he secures a belt on Saturday.

“Coming to a different club has helped me change my style and become a better fighter,” he added.

“We have a real stable here which is brilliant. Everyone is winning which really helps boost the morale.

“We all gee each other up and on Saturday Ray (Ginley) will be there as well so we can gee each other up and it helps you to keep calm.

“Ray is only 18 years of age so he is very young and it will be a huge night for him going out into somewhere as big as the Odyssey.

“It will be tough with nerves for him because I am 24 and that’s a big thing for me as well.”

With six wins from six, Hillerby is fancied to produce the goods against Thompson (6-4-1) but he is erring on the side of caution.

 

Quality

The Ballyclare man may be on a four fight losing streak but those defeats have come against top quality opposition including Miguel Cotto victim Michael Jennings and British champion Ashley Theophane.

However, confidence is high and Hillerby knows victory is essential if he is to fulfil his promise that 2012 will indeed be his time to shine.

“This is a step up. People look at Willie Thompson and say he has lost his last four but they were against good opponents,” argues the 24-year-old.

“He lost to Michael Jennings who was a WBU world champion that fought Miguel Cotto and he is the only man to have ever stopped him.

“He then lost to the current British light-welterweight champion, Ashley Theophane so he has been in with a good mix and never gets stopped.

“His last fight was for a British Masters title that went the distance so everyone may be saying this fight is only Willie Thompson but he is a good fighter who doesn’t get put away.

“I’m planning for a long night but if the stoppage comes, it comes. The important thing is getting the win.

“This is for a Northern Ireland title and I said this year is going to be a big one for me so this is the start of it.”

 

Anticipated

Hillerby’s title shot is of course part of the undercard for the eagerly anticipated Irish heavyweight title clash between Martin Rogan and Tyson Fury.

This showdown has captured the public’s imagination and there are sure to be fireworks when the pair enter the ring.

Elsewhere on the bill, Chris Eubank Jnr will challenge Paul Allison over six rounds while there are also some tasty bouts featuring local fighters.

Dee Walsh will aim to continue his promising start to life in the paid ranks when he takes on West Belfast rival Tommy Tolan. Tolan’s stable mate, Ciaran Healy is also in action against local rival Ray Ginley while Darren Corbett returns to action against Michael Sweeney.

Conall Carmichael makes his pro debut against Belfast-based Ugandan Moses Matovu while Marco McCullough and John O’Donnell are also in action.

Promoter of the show, entitled ‘Unfinished Business’, Mick Hennessy, said the expected sell-out crowd will be treated to a fantastic night of action.

“This is going to be one of the most entertaining shows that I have ever promoted. It’s a great night for boxing fans and the fans can be sure they are in for a real treat,” he said.

“Tyson Fury against Martin Rogan and the all-Irish fights on the undercard will be a special night of boxing and it will all cap a great week of Irish sport.”

 

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