Ballymena middleweight Joe Rea is looking forward to the draw for the first ever Prizefighter tournament to be held in Ireland.
“Eddie Hearn (Head of Matchroom Boxing) promised me on twitter that I was on Prizefighter, he some man and sticks by his word so I cant wait for it now,” beemed Rea as be spoke exclusively to Stephen Sharpe of Boxing-Ireland.com this week.
‘Sugar’ Rea may also have the edge on fellow opponents, said to include Anthony Fitzgerald, Darren Cruise, Mark Heffron and Eamonn O’Kane, as he has sampled the Prizefighter fever previously.
“I’ve fought on it (Prizefighter) before in 2008, against Martin Murray, and lost in the 1/4 finals, which most people said was the real final. This time I have ten weeks notice for this one and I am going to be in the best shape of my career.”
Follow a promising start the the County Antrim boxer’s career, which included an eight fight unbeaten streak, Rea’s fortunes took a turn for the worse after he returned home and was unable to find fights in Ireland and had to travel to the continent to face World class operators in order to keep busy.
“I turned pro over in America with Micky Ward, and then came back here and I was 6-0, then I fought in the Prizefighter against Martin Murray and basically since then I have struggle to get fights. No British or Irish fighter would really take me as an opponent so I have really just had to travel around Europe fighting top European guys, so this in my chance to turn my career around,” sighed Rea.
Since the concept of an All-Ireland Prizefighter emerged a vicious feud between Rea and Dublin’s EBA middleweight champion Anthony Fitzgerald has once again erupted and months of calm.
“I heard he (Fitzgerald) is in it, and I hope he is in it and that I get him in the 1st round so I can beat him up. Which is what everyone in Ireland wants.
“He is on there talking about a world titles and European titles and this and that. But if you look down his record, who has he fought? He lost to Robbie Long, no disrespect to Robbie, but apart from that who has he ever fought and he is talking about World title fights?,” added Rea.
“I wouldnt be surprised if he didnt even enter this because he has no balls, and he is just generally full of shit really. I hope I get him in the quarter finals, that’ll be easy, a nice wee warm-up.”
Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Promotions is due to announce the full line-up as well as Paul McCloskey’s opponent tomorrow, February 23.