By Ed Leahy
Patrick Hyland is bidding to become the latest Irish world champion as he takes on Javier “El Abejon” Fortuna at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on Saturday night.
The fight takes place on the undercard of the much-anticipated HBO Pay-Per-View event headlined by the bout between the legendary Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez.
Hyland and Fortuna are fighting for the vacant WBA interim Featherweight title, and the Tallaght native is confident of bringing the belt home.
He said: "It's every kids dream to fight for a world title so to do it on such a big stage on a Manny Pacquiao card in Las Vegas live on US TV is an added bonus.
"Fighting for the world title will fulfil a lifelong ambition and now the opportunity is finally almost here. This is what I've worked for since the very first day I put on a pair of boxing gloves so it's a dream come true.
“I’ve had tunnel vision for this fight. It feels great to have a chance to be mentioned in the same class with those other Irish world boxing champions.”
Hyland is also defending his unbeaten record as a professional fighter with 27 wins and no loses with 12 knock-out victories and the New York based featherweight knows that he is in for a real contest against southpaw Fortuna on Saturday night.
"Our plan is to take him into deep water and see what he has left.” - Hyland.
He said: “Fortuna is an explosive fighter and it’s a pleasure to share the ring with him. He’s a lefty, which is a problem for most right-handed fighters, but we’ve trained hard to move to the left.”
The 29-year-old Dubliner is currently ranked sixth in the world in the WBA ranking, while his opponent is ranked at number two and also boasts an unbeaten professional record with 20 wins, 15 by knock-out.
And while Fortuna is renowned for trying to take the fight to his opponents early on in the bout, Hyland believes he will weather that storm and take the contest into the latter stages.
He added: “I have to stay sharp and focused, especially the first few rounds, so he doesn’t catch me. Our plan is to take him into deep water and see what he has left.”
Promoted by Final Round Promotions and Team Snooki Boxing, Hyland moved to the States 12 months ago and is now based in Marlboro, New York where he is trained by former world champion Tracy Harris Patterson.
And victory on Saturday night would open up a world of opportunities for Hyland with lots of big names in the current featherweight division including Daniel Ponce de León, Billy Dib and Orlando Salido.
Hyland is not looking beyond Saturday night and his only immediate plans are to spend Christmas at home in Dublin.