Despite his diminutive stature and win some lose some record, 26 year old professional fighter Ian Bailey is a handy little battler and deserves a degree of good fortune and good will this Friday as he travels to Belfast to tackle touted prospect Carl Frampton on the under card of Paul McCloskey’s attempt to encourage veteran Italian Giuseppe Lauri to retire. For international readers or those with a more headline orientated interest in boxing Ian Bailey is Berkshire born, 5-4 (0) thus far, and missed out on a big Prizefighter pay-day on the spin of a coin last month.
Though the recent Prizefighter event threw up some of the most compelling action the series has so far generated, the moment which has stayed with me longest was the hastily arranged coin toss backstage to decide which of the two reserves would replace the cut and fatigued Ricky Owens in the final against Willie Casey. At stake was a the opportunity to win the £32,000 prize against an opponent who had already boxed twice and strike a lasting memory into the psyche of the viewing public. Prizefighter notoriety can project fighters a long way in a short time. Just ask Martin Rogan or latterly Audley Harrison.
The moment came; Paul McElhinney who appeared both nervous and eager called heads, the coin oscillated, landed and Bailey, who could barely raise a word in pre-toss interview with Ed Robinson such was his focus and understanding of the brevity of what was about to happen turned away in desolation as the result was revealed. In such fleeting moments lives can change, paths alter. It was stomach-wrenching television. To be so close to a break-through opportunity and lose on a coin toss seemed cruel.
Firstly, Bailey missed the chance to box live on SKY. Immediately suffered a net loss of £14,000 on the result of one coin flip and found himself with a sense of ‘what might have been’ which could overwhelm a young fighter with a family to provide for. McElhinney boxed with courage and common-sense but couldn’t fend off Casey who thankfully won the tourney to prevent the sense of injustice a few of the participants may have felt had the reserve scooped the main prize.
Perhaps sensibly, Bailey is swiftly matched against Barry McGuigan guided hot-shot Carl Frampton over six-threes at 122 pounds. Bailey’s cherubic, innocent features belay a plucky combatant as previously highly regarded prospect Steve Barnes will attest. Bailey snapped his embryonic unbeaten record in November. I saw Bailey fight over in Newmarket prior to that giving up weight, height and experience to Sid Razak but proving busier, more precise and focussed to beat the veteran ‘opponent’ over four rounds.
Frampton will be an entirely different proposition if the press releases distributed on his behalf are to be believed. Mentor McGuigan certainly feels Frampton has the ability to go much further than six-rounders at Kings Hall.
There is no doubt in my mind that Carl can go the whole way,” asserted McGuigan. “He has all the potential in the world and when I compare him to where I was at the same stage of my pro career it frightens me just how good he is. Irish boxing is blessed at the moment to have some very good fighters but I believe that Carl will prove to be the pick of the bunch. He has the X-factor that you need to succeed at the highest level.”
Sock it to him Ian.
The Yanjing Beer Fight Night will be live on Sky Sports and tickets priced ￡30, ￡60 and ￡90 are available from Ticketmaster and all usual outlets. Contact Ticketmaster 0844 8472455 (0818 719300 from ROI), Box Office 01277 359900, Julie 07745698372, Francie 07803282224.