Jay Byrne, right, in the lead-up to his date with Josh Kelly

2017 has been a memorable year for Jay Byrne, and the Loughlinstown welter is looking to round it off with a big win next month.
On Saturday, December 2 at the National Stadium, Byrne takes on unbeaten Balbriggan prospect Gerard “Crank” Whitehouse for the vacant Celtic Welterweight title.
The bout is the co-main event of the ‘Celtic Clash 4’ card ran by Boxing Ireland Promotions and Tony Davitt Promotions – with former RTE pundit and top amateur Eric Donovan defending his BUI Celtic featherweight title against Juancho Gonzalez.
The fight, Byrne’s seventh of the year, is yet another big one for the Dubliner who has become known as Ireland’s busiest pro.
Over the past few months Byrne has become a regular on Sky Sports, fighting thrice on major cards. A man who only took up boxing in his mid-20s, “The Negotiator” found himself sharing the ring with two Olympians in Josh Kelly and Anthony Fowler, as well as another top English prospect in Felix Cash.
The deck was always stacked against Byrne who lost these three fights – however he succeeded in giving Kelly and Cash the toughest tests of their careers thus far.
Indeed, the Dubliner carved himself out as something of a cult hero among English fans as a brave opponent who refused to lie down and roll over. It all went wrong though in his most recent Sky sojourn though when he suffered a fourth round stoppage against Fowler at the Echo Arena.
The disappointing result in Liverpool, and some soul searching, has seen Byrne have a change of tack – with domestic glory in front of his large fanbase taking precedence over high-profile fights as “the opponent”.
Byrne explains how “I lived the dream and after it I said that’s enough now. Enough of the big stage like that as I don’t want to be in fights with that outcome.
“I was going to retire after that fight and my team said no way and that I couldn’t retire all because I had a bad night at the office.
“After the fight, I spoke to Declan [Geraghty Snr], Tommy [McCormack], my family and also Eddie [Hyland]. They all said I need to get back onto the domestic scene and work on what I’ve been learning. Now it’s time to go win an Irish title before even thinking of walking away.”
While Byrne’s three scraps on Sky Sports all played out at light middleweight [154lbs], he is now back down at his more natural weight of 147lbs.
The 31-year-old notes how “I know I’ll be a massive name in Ireland at that weight. I am going to prove that I am worth that name now.”
In Whitehouse he faces a hungry 22-year-old opponent with big amateur pedigree – having won European Schoolboys bronze for Ireland.