Unbeaten Irish light welterweight sensation Dean “Irish Lightning” Byrne fights for the first time in 2009 when he battles Mexican southpaw Jose Reynoso (10-2, 1 KO) in a scheduled eight round bout on May 1 at South Point Hotel Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. Not only will Byrne be making his debut in the glitz and glitter of Las Vegas, the 24-year-old Irishman will be fighting the night before the Manny Pacquiao-Ricky Hatton showdown in the same city with Manny’s trainer, Freddie Roach, also in his corner.
Working out at Roach’s famed Wild Card Gym in Los Angeles, where he has sparred with Pacquiao, Amir Khan and Juan Marquez, Byrne has found a home. After having more than 200 amateur fights, including an Irish National title, Dean turned pro in Australia, where he captured the New South Wales State belt in only his fourth pro fight, and one fighter later added the Australian crown in a 10-rounder. On his way from Australia to relocate in Boston, Dean stopped in Los Angeles and trained at Wild Card, where Roach took an instant liking to him.
“I couldn’t have a better trainer,” Byrne said. “I’m so proud he’s my trainer. He says I got it and I’m going to prove that to him and me. I really can’t wait until this fight in Las Vegas and I’m trained by Manny’s trainer. It’s going to be a weekend of celebration. I’m not going to go out and jump on this guy (Reynoso). I want to show everybody what I can do – box! I’m starting to bring it on hard. On fight night I won’t be wearing headgear and big gloves. It’s a different feeling with the 8-ounze gloves and no headgear. I can’t wait to feel the power.”
Byrne (10-0, 4 KOs), fighting out of Los Angeles by way of Dublin, was supposed to fight in an eight round bout March 16 in New York City that was canceled. The former Australian and New Wales champion hasn’t fought since defeating Francisco Rios Gil last December.
“Dean’s been doing great,” Roach remarked. “He’s learning to sit on his punches. For this fight he’s mostly been sparring with Dennis Laurente (30-3-5, 16 KOs), who is fighting in a ten rounder in Las Vegas on the same weekend. Dean’s a good prospect and working together with Dennis, a lefty, has been great for both of them. Dean’s going to get great exposure fighting in Las Vegas the night before Manny’s fight with everybody in boxing in town. Dean told me he’s going to shine and I know we’re ready to go.”
Byrne’s manager, Steven Feder (Standing Eight Management) values Roach handling his prize prospect, Byrne. “I can’t believe a year in this business and I’m working with the best trainer in the world, Freddie Roach,” Feder commented. “He’s as excited about working with a prospect like Dean as he is with the best fighter in the world, Manny. Freddie loves boxing and is still a student of the game. I handle the business side and let Freddie do his thing – nobody does it better. Having Freddie in our corner is like being handed the Triple Crown winner, or like a four round handicap before the first rounds starts. We’re light years ahead of where we’d be right now without him.
“He really cares about his fighters. It’s like a tough father-son relationship; he may kiss them on one cheek, slap them on the other, but I don’t have to strategize with Freddie in our corner. The key is having a game plan because you don’t want the fighter thinking too much in the ring. There are no guarantees, of course, but Dean is a great kid and a talented, promising prospect. As a manager, I don’t want to be asking where my fighter is or if he’s trained today. Dean’s only concern in life is boxing and he’s always working hard in the gym. We expect big things from him.”