Hyland out to make big statement in quest for British title shot
A young Paul Hyland took one look at the spoils around the shoulder of former champion Martin Lindsay and dreamed one day of also becoming British champion. Now the Belfast man believes he could be just one win away from the chance to make that a reality.
Lindsay had just won the British featherweight title after an epic victory over Paul Appleby in the Ulster Hall eight years ago and returned to the Immaculata gym in west Belfast to show off his Lonsdale belt, which despite the plethora of titles remains a coveted possession. Hyland, part of the SSE Arena supporting bill to IBF bantamweight champion Ryan Burnett's mouth-watering World title unification clash with WBA title holder Zhanat Zhakiyanov on Saturday night, faces Steven Ormond in a 10-rounder.
The Dubliner has mixed it with some of the best in Britain and usually come off second best in entertaining scraps.
Consequently, 27-year-old Hyland believes this duel will act as a barometer for his aspiration to have a crack at recently crowned British lightweight champion Lewis Ritson.
"This is a chance for me to make a big statement. Ormond has mixed in good company, he's a step up for me and it's a chance for to show promoter Eddie Hearn that I deserve a crack at Ritson," said Hyland.
"Eddie is the man who can deliver me that chance at Ritson.
"He's done everything he said he would up to this point so I'm hoping that I can do enough to convince him that I should be given a British title shot.
"Winning the Lonsdale belt would be very special. When I saw Martin Lindsay coming into our amateur club with the belt I said to myself I want to win that one day. It's a beautiful belt and still one of the most prestigious in the world. It's my dream to win it and having seen Ritson I believe I could make life very difficult for him.
"I noticed that when Robbie Barrett pushed him back he didn't like it and I can tell you I wouldn't be taking a backward step."
That was certainly the case in the SSE Arena in June when Hyland enjoyed his best win after a slow burning career, stopping Adam Dingsdale inside a round. With dad Paul snr in his corner, he can scale further heights.
"My dad has been great for me. He's my number one fan but like any father he's extra hard on me and it seems to pay off," added Hyland.
"My mum is a bit different, she goes to the fights but hardly watches!
"She'll be looking away and asking how I'm doing, she just gets too nervous. But my dad really drives me on and will do whatever it takes to help me achieve my dreams."
As for Saturday night's clash with Ormond, the Belfast man expects it to be a contender for fight of the night.
"Ormond will come looking for me, that's the way he fights and I'll be ready for him.
"I think our styles will gel - it has to be an exciting fight and I'm confident I'll get the win because I'm in great shape."