Unbeaten New York-based Macroom boxer wants Irish welterweight title fight
BY KIERAN McCARTHY
HE enjoyed a hero’s welcome at home in Macroom these past few weeks – but Noel Murphy is adamant that his future lies in New York.
Two and a half years ago, he swapped his hometown for the Big Apple when he turned professional and this talented boxer hasn’t looked back since.
Undefeated in his nine professional fights, Murphy’s latest win – and his first pro fight on Irish soil – came recently against Avelino Vazquez at the National Stadium as he claimed the BUI Celtic title after a dominant eight-round points victory.
It has also opened the door for a tilt at the Irish welterweight title, with a title fight against reigning champion Peter McDonagh being mooted.
Murphy was due to fly back to New York on Wednesday, where he trains in the Worldwide Boxing Gym and lives in Woodlawn, both in the Bronx, and he is also in line for a title shot across the Atlantic.
He could also fight for a North American or New York State title this year.
Busy and exciting times for the 22-year-old boxer who left home to pursue the professional dream.
‘I’m in New York two and a half years now,’ the welterweight said.
‘I love coming home, this was my first time back to Ireland in 14 months, but my future is in New York. That’s where the opportunities are.
‘In terms of being a pro boxer, New York is a great place to be, one of the best places in the world.
‘There’s not much happening in Ireland. If I lived here I’d find it very hard to even get sparring partners so New York is one of the best places I can be.’
He added, ‘It’s tough to be a fighter in New York and come up there but that benefits you in the long run. It’s a high standard.’
Regarded as a teenage sensation in his amateur days it was while he was on a trip to New York to take part in an amateur show with his club, when he was 19, that boxing manager Kevin Coakley, a fellow Corkonian, from Carrigtwohill, saw something in Murphy that he liked.
Coakley – now Murphy’s manager – invited him out to the Big Apple for six weeks, to see if he liked what he saw and wanted to make the move to the professional ranks.
‘It was a fierce tough decision to make at the time,’ recalled Murphy, who fights for promoter Lou DiBella.
‘It was daunting at the start, it was hard to get to know people, I knew nobody and you’d be on your own a lot – but it was a massive opportunity and it was definitely worth the risk. I had to take the chance.
‘When I was thinking about moving there and turning pro, it was a quick decision to be honest. Kevin asked me to try it out for six weeks over a summer to see if I liked it, I did that, I liked it and it’s all worked out.
‘It did take a long time to settle in and get used to the place, but I am well settled in now and I love it over there.’
Murphy started boxing when he was 11 years old and he quickly built a reputation with Macroom Boxing Club, with trainer Tom Power showing him the ropes, and success followed, winning two national titles (youth and intermediate).
In an Irish Independent interview in 2012, John Desmond of Macroom Boxing Club, said: ‘When he came to us at the tender age of 11 we realised straight away that Noel was a very special talent. He took to the boxing like a duck to water, training every single day and always giving 100 per cent.’
Big things were expected of Murphy, who fought 116 times as an amateur, and he had hopes of representing Ireland at an Olympic Games – but then he joined the professional game.
‘I had thought about going pro before I did but I had this ambition of going to the Olympics,’ the unbeaten southpaw said.
‘When Kevin Crowley gave me the opportunity I couldn’t pass it up because the amateur game is so unpredictable.
‘You have to be logical too, anything can happen in the amateur game and I know that anything can happen in the pro game as well, but the judging can be very unpredictable in amateur boxing; you saw that in the Olympics last year.
‘You could do everything right in a fight and win, but you still mightn’t get the decision
‘It’s too much of a chance to put everything into it and not get the rewards you deserve. One bad decisions and your dreams can go out the window.’
The son of Anthony and Linda, and older brother to Eric, explains the big differences between professional and amateur boxing.
‘In the professional you are a lot more flat footed, you throw a lot more power and the pace would be different because you are fighting over longer rounds, while when you’re amateur you’re on your toes and you throw a lot of punches in a short space of time, you’re in and out more,’ he said.
On an upward curve right now, 2016 had been a disappointing year as Murphy only got to fight twice Stateside after other fights fell through – but the early months of 2017 have been very encouraging.
He won his eighth pro fight in January, and extended his unbeaten record, when he defeated the previously unbeaten Maxito Sainvil at the Barclays Centre in New York – on the undercard of the James Degale and Jack Badou fight – and he did so in front of boxing great Floyd Mayweather.
‘That was crazy and brilliant, Floyd was there, he was on the stage when I was weighing in, it was pretty cool,’ said Murphy, who had missed out on meeting Mayweather in the summer of 2015 when on a random day that the Macroom man went to a regular gym rather than his usual boxing gym, Mayweather turned up at the latter, walking in off the street.
These days, and before jetting back to New York this week, it’s Murphy who is being recognised on the streets at home in Macroom off the back of his success, the latest being his ninth win, against Avelino Vazquez.
‘That opens the door now because I am mandatory for an Irish title fight, so we might come back next year and win that – but first we have to go back to New York and see what’s planned for me,’ he explained.
‘I want to make the most of every opportunity because it’s a difficult career, very uncertain. You know that it can end in any fight, it only takes one punch and your career could be over so it’s unpredictable. But it’s the best sport in the world too so it balances out.’