Fast-improving Belfast middleweight Joe Hillerby is targeting a crack at the vacant Irish title and the Sandy Row prospect even has an opponent lined up ready to contest it with. “I want the Irish title and I’ll fight Jeff Thomas for it,” affirmed Hillerby, “2012 is going to be my year and this is just the start of it.”
Joe was speaking straight after winning his first professional title. The Northern Ireland Area belt went home with the sprightly youngster as he tamed the feral assaults of Ballyclare’s Willie Thompson on the recent Tyson Fury-Martin Rogan undercard.
“I just boxed comfortably in there and I’m not even tired now,” he boasted. “Willie’s a tough fighter so I stuck to the boxing and worked when I needed to. This is my first time past four rounds and I showed my fitness. I caught him as he rushed in and thought that I might have put him away. I think that I hurt him a few times in the fight."
“I knew that Willie would be tough and durable and ready to take a lot [of punishment]. He can take a good shot. In the seventh round I thought he was about to go and I raced in instead of picking my shots properly.”
It indeed looked like Thompson might shrivel under the attacks but he sucked up the punishment and took his licks well, managing to see out the round and ultimately the fight itself. Willie has fallen short in his career over recent years after a promising start but he showed his usual resolute spirit and had whipped himself up in to fine shape, switching between the gyms of John Breen and Alan Wilton. He was, however, unable to get inside and ruffle the feathers of his rampant opponent. On the other hand, Joe is reveling in the workouts provided by trainer Paul McCullagh Snr and a host of quality spar partners.
“We’ve got the best camp in Ireland and we might not have all the belts yet but they’re coming," added Hillerby. "Willie Casey’s going to get one next week [the Limerick man was actually unable to outfox Andreas Evensen in Denmark]. The camp’s buzzing and the trainers are fantastic; they’ve put a lot of work into me and it’s all coming out now. Two fights under my new training team and I’m flying.”