Ballinrobe talent Michael Sweeney (pictured) is looking to use an April 14 clash with Belfast’s own ‘Raging Bull’ Darren Corbett as a chance to catapult his way back into the title mix.
Even though former Commonwealth cruiserweight king Corbett is 39 years old and has endured a lengthy career reaching all the way back to 1994, Sweeney is expecting a tough night’s work on the Tyson Fury-Martin Rogan undercard.
“A win over Corbett puts me up right there and on course for a rematch with Ian Tims which is what I want, or an EU title fight, whatever comes first,” buzzed the man who is now 11-2-1 (6 KOs) since turning pro in 2007. “Training with Sean Mannion has been going great as usual and everything is fitting in well with just a few weeks left. I’ve been out for a while but this has happened before [a spell of inactivity] and I came back with a good win. I’m young so I’m moving all the time.”
Sweeney has been out of the ring for seven months and has seen a few mooted opportunities fail to materialise. He has never found high-class sparring difficult to come by and has been in with the likes of Arthur Abraham, Chad Dawson and Wladimir Klitschko, no less, after forming a solid relationship with Emanuel Steward. This time the 29-year-old has been out in Finland sparring Juho Haapoja who recently beat Ian Tims for the same EU title that Michael craves a shot at. He will finish up preparations by working with headline attraction Martin Rogan and show debutant Conall Carmichael.
Sweeney briefly teamed up with the now defunct DolPhil Promotions early last year for an ill-fated crack at the Irish cruiserweight title against the aforementioned Tims. After coming in, by his own admission, in less than stellar condition having been beset by pre-fight troubles, Sweeney dropped a narrow 95-97 points decision to the rampant Dubliner Tims.
“I wasn’t in good shape for the Tims fight but I had loads of tickets sold and I didn’t want to let anyone down but on the night but I did let myself down,” he admitted. “That won’t happen twice though and I’ll get him next time. I had just had an operation on my Achilles so that says it all. The main thing now is to keep getting fights and winning them and then the big ones will come along.”
Corbett, meanwhile, has made his own intentions clear in the local press by stating that he sees Sweeney’s scalp as his chance to snare a crack at Tims for the all-Ireland crown. In recent times Darren has only moved out of semi-retirement for opportunities in the last two cruiserweight Prizefighter tournaments but he seems to have refocused all efforts back in his Sacred Heart gym base and is bizarrely looking to use any future fight earnings towards a deposit on a sweet shop.
“Corbett is looking at a hard way to get his deposit for sweets, because he won’t beat me,” chuckled Sweeney. “I’m going to spoil his party...but I will bring him some Maltesers and popcorn to the after party!
“Darren made his name back in the day but time moves on and so does [a fighter’s] age, but I don’t look at that because he can be dangerous, so I’m not taking him lightly. But it’s definitely a win I want on my record. I’ve got fast feet, good hand speed and I can bang too so it’s going to be a good fight.”
As Rogan and Fury bash lumps out of each other in the main event, screening live on Channel 5, Sweeney and Corbett could yet find themselves enjoying some television exposure on the undercard but that is the least of the Mayo man’s concerns.
“Getting on TV would be great but just winning is on my mind, I will get on TV some day. I’m happy to be on the card and a big thanks to Mick Hennessy and Mickey Hughes who are good boxing men. It’s shaping up into a good bill and that’s obviously what the fans want. I’m fighting in Corbett’s back yard but I’ve been fighting in back yards all my life. It’s in my DNA and I just can’t wait for April 14.”