For undefeated junior middleweight James Moore, a native of County Wicklow, Ireland, who fights out of Queens, New York, March 15 cannot come soon enough. On that night Moore, who turns 30 on February 26, will headline the annual pre-St. Patrick’s Day boxing show at the Theater at Madison Square Garden.
The show, which is being promoted by the newly formed Celtic Gloves Promotions, will also feature red-hot lightweight Oisin Fagan, 20-5 (15 KOs), a Dublin native who fights out of Oklahoma City, and undefeated junior middleweight Pawel “Raging Bull” Wolak who was born in Poland but now resides in Brooklyn.
It is being called “Gaelic Storm” because the venue will be loaded to the rafters with boisterous and faithful Irish fans, who in just a few years have made this annual event an institution.
The recently married Moore, 14-0 (10 KOs), will face his sternest test as a pro against the well-traveled and battle-tested J.C. Candelo, 27-9 (18 KOs), of Colombia. Not only does the 34-year-old Candelo have more knockouts than Moore has fights, he has only been stopped once, in the tenth round by Kassim Ouma in January 2004.
Considering the fact that he has faced such top contenders and champions as Winky Wright, Verno Philips, Marco Antonio Rubio, Alex Bunema and Michael Lerma, it is obvious that Moore better be on his A-game.
“I’ve been wanting more competitive fights for quite some time now,” said the amiable Moore, who has established a big fan base by fighting throughout the New York metropolitan area since turning pro in August 2005.
“This is the biggest fight of my career but I’ve been doing what I always do, which is train hard.”
Moore is currently ensconced in training camp at the Fernwood Resort in Pennsylvania’s bucolic Pocono Mountains. Among those working with him is undefeated junior welterweight Dmitriy Salita.
Moore begins each day with a pre-dawn six-mile run.
“There are a lot of hills, so it is a grueling run but it gets easier each day,” said Moore. “I keep thinking of this fight and how much it will mean to my career. That keeps me pushing really hard.”
Later in the day Moore’s trainer, Harry Keitt, puts him through an equally vigorous gym workout. All of the shadow boxing, bag punching and fitness work is done in four minute increments with just 30 seconds of rest between rounds.
“We just keep building to a higher tempo each day,” said Moore. “Harry is tough. If he could find a tire for me to hit, he’d have me hitting that, too.”
Moore, who has gone away to camp before, says leading such a Spartan existence is difficult, especially since he is away from his wife Leanne.
But, he says, “Boxing is a tough business, so it takes a lot of commitment to be successful. I have no problem putting in the hard work.”
As the former captain of the Irish national amateur team, Moore engaged in over 300 fights. As a pro, he has made steady progress and, along with countrymen John Duddy, Andy Lee, Fagan, and others, is responsible for the tremendous resurgence of Irish boxing in the United States.
Moore recently signed a promotional contract with Celtic Gloves, which is so confident of his championship potential, as well as his ability to attract fans, they have rented out the 5,500 seat Theater at MSG to showcase him on the biggest weekend of the year for devotees of Irish boxers.
What makes this event so special, however, is the fact that many of those in attendance are not even boxing fans. What all have in common is the fact that, in New York at least, they are James Moore and John Duddy fans.
“The pre-St. Patrick’s Day boxing shows have become an institution in New York,” said Mike O’Sullivan, the co-owner of Celtic Gloves. “Tickets are not even available yet, but we are getting calls for them. We expect the night to be a sellout, and for this to be a breakout fight for James.”
Prior to the fight being signed, matchmaker Bruce Silverglade had been talking to television executives about the possibility of Moore appearing on ESPN 2 and ShoBox: The New Generation. He, and others, believe that Moore is well-suited for those networks.
“James is a good offensive fighter and an excellent body puncher,” said ShoBox commentator Steve Farhood. “His style makes him a very good TV fighter.”
Moore has lofty plans for the year. He has already appeared on the nationally syndicated Joey Reynolds radio show and in the weeks leading up to “Gaelic Storm” has many more media appearances scheduled.
On February 19, he will be honored as a “Future Champion” by Ring 8 of the Veteran Boxers Association in Queens. Five days later, on February 24, he will be feted by the American Association for the Improvement of Boxing (AAIB) at their annual luncheon in White Plains, New York.
Even amid such distractions, Moore says that he will bring his all to his date with destiny at MSG.
“I always look to knock people out, that’s my style,” said Moore. “Most of the time it works in my favor, but sometimes it can be distracting and the knockout doesn’t come. I‘m working on all of those things, and I will be totally focused and ready on March 15. The fans will definitely get their money’s worth.”
Tickets are expected to go on sale during the week of February 11 and can be purchased through Ticketmaster or by calling Celtic Gloves at 917-559-8467 or Gleason’s Gym at 718-797-2872.
For sponsorship and advertising opportunities, contact Mike O’Sullivan at 917-559-8467.