Fledging Irish super-middleweight, Paul Moffett has had quite an eventful start to his professional career. He took his pro debut fight at just three days' notice - an impressive win over experienced Ciaran Healy on the undercard of Fury-Rogan last weekend - and is scheduled to fight at least twice more in the next month as well as being a reserve in the upcoming Irish Prizefighter – Middleweights.
Moffett also revealed that he was offered a starting berth in Prizefighter, following the withdrawal of Mark Heffron. In an interview with BoxRec News, Moffett reflects on his boxing career that featured duels with top fighters such as Eamonn O’Kane and Andy Lee - yielding five Ulster titles and three Irish titles in over 120 fights. Moffett details notable wins including a ring war with Gary ‘Spike’ O’Sullivan and handing Anthony Small his last defeat as an amateur.
“As a youth and a junior I won pretty much everything. I won about 4 or 5 Ulster titles (Junior and Boys Clubs). I won a silver medal at the junior UK Championships and won the All Ireland Boy 4, Youth and Intermediate titles.”
Moffett was a seventeen year old when he fought Andy Lee in the final of the Irish Juniors, losing 7-4. The defeat by Lee was for a place at the World Juniors – where Lee went on to win a silver medal. Moffett then won the Ulster Intermediates and Irish Intermediates but lost three Ulster Senior Finals to his nemesis Eamonn O’Kane, at middleweight.
Moffett moved out of his weight division to enter the Ulster Seniors at light heavyweight, but was beat in the final by Tommy McCarthy. Moffett’s fight with Tommy McCarthy took place three years ago and it was to be Moffett’s last amateur fight. Moffett explains the reasons for discontinuing his amateur career. “In the amateur game a lot of the guys Eamonn O’Kane and Tommy McCarthy were getting heavily funded and were able to train full time. Whereas I work for myself as an electrician and I was out working and trying to compete with them guys. It was just a wee bit too hard. But I was always in the gym training – I never stopped training and had the odd fight in a club show. The whole three years that I was out, I was training anyway – always keeping in shape.”
Moffett is an orthodox box-fighter and says he is “a good stylish boxer but also likes to have a tear up when necessary”. Reflecting on his most notable opponents and wins, he said, “I was actually the last person to beat Anthony Small as an amateur. I beat him in the International show we had in the Marine Court, just before Small turned pro.
“Eamonn O’Kane was a tough opponent, very fit, strong and always in your face. Although I lost, my fights with Eamonn were close. Anthony Small was a very awkward and cocky opponent – that was a good win for me.
“The year I won the Irish Intermediates, I fought Gary ‘Spike’ O’Sullivan in my first fight and beat him 14-12. That was a real tough, cracking fight. I actually gave him a standing count with about ten seconds to go in the last round. I landed a one-two to give him the standing count and they scored both of those points and that’s what actually won me the fight. I only beat him 14-12 and it was a cracking fight, he was a real, tough, tough boy.”
Moffett’s explains his entrance into boxing and long association with trainer Sandy Rice. “I was always into my football and we moved house when I was ten to Bangor and moved next door to Sandy Rice. And Sandy’s son, Jamie is one of my best friends – I met him as a kid, playing football. And after the football Jamie said to me ‘I have to go – I have to go to the boxing gym now with my dad – do you want to come with me?’ I said, ‘aye, why not?’
“When I told my dad that I was going to the boxing gym with Jamie and his dad – Sandy, it turned out that Sandy had grown up in the same area as my dad and they knew each other. So, I started boxing with Sandy since I was ten and have been with him ever since.
“I loved the boxing. I started at the gym when I was 10 ½ and then when I turned 11 in January, I had my first fight a month later and got my ‘pan’ knocked in [that’s Ulster slang for ‘getting your head knocked in’!]. That was a tough fight. The fella that I fought already had about five fights, which isn’t a lot but I was thinking ‘this guy has had five fights’ and I just froze. I remember just going into the ring and I just froze, and he proceeded to batter me around the ring for three rounds.
“But, the guy I lost my first fight to, I actually fought him again in the Championships two years later and I stopped him in the second round. It just shows you the difference in a couple of years.”
Moffett is managed by Alan Wilton and trained by ex-boxer Sandy Rice from the Abbey Boxing Club in Bangor. Rice opened the Abbey Boxing Club, just over ten years ago and trained Gary McClure who became the first Abbey fighter to win an Ulster Senior title and also went on to fight in the 2002 Commonwealth Games.
Another Abbey fighter who excelled under Rice was Shaun McKim, who won four Ulster Senior titles at three different weights and boxed in the 2006 Commonwealth Games. Moffett lauds the natural talent that McKim possessed and they remain close friends, with McKim due to act as best man at Moffett’s upcoming wedding. Moffett impressed with a convincing points win over experienced veteran Ciaran Healy in his pro debut on the under card of Fury-Rogan, last weekend. It was a tough opponent for a debut fight, but Moffett took the fight with only three days notice.
“I boxed within myself, I didn’t want to do anything silly, it was a big fight and I just out boxed him and beat him quite handily. We only got told about the fight on the Wednesday and the fight was on the Saturday. Initially, Alio (Alan Wilton) was like ‘it is a tough fight for your debut – it is up to yourself’ and Sandy was the same.
“But I knew myself because I had sparred Ciaran a lot throughout my amateurs and I think they maybe took me a bit lightly, thinking ‘aye he is only coming back’. But, I had never been out of the gym and I jumped at it – I said ‘just make the match and I will beat him, it is no problem.’ Take the fight and it will be a good win and get us well noticed – and it has – because everyone I speak to they are saying ‘ that was a great win on your debut.”
Moffett turned pro after much encouragement from others in the boxing trade who were convinced that he had the ability to achieve success in the ring. After discussing it over with his family and giving it much thought, Moffett said, “I have just decided to knuckle down for a few years and see how far I can get. If I can get five fights before Christmas I would be happy – that would be an early goal. I have been in with good amateurs; some of them I have won and others have lost in close finals. So I certainly think I can get to British title contention anyway. I definitely have no qualms about that. That’s why we are taking hard fights as I want to get up the ladder quicker, there is no point in fighting journeymen who are not going to do you any use.”
Moffett is then a reserve for the Irish Prizefighter – Middleweights next week and revealed that he turned down a starting berth in the line up. “I actually got offered a place on Prizefighter but I think, especially with this fight (Boness) coming up and I fought last week, that it is perhaps a little bit too much. We were happy enough to take the reserve. But you never know, with a bit of luck we might get called up to fight on Prizefighter.”
On the evidence of his performance in his pro debut and amateur pedigree, if Moffett should be called upon as a reserve in Prizefighter – he might be a value bet to snare the £32k cheque and Prizefighter trophy. Before then, there is the challenge of Jamie Boness (4-1-1) tomorrow night on the Alio Promotion at the Holiday Inn, Belfast.