Preston boxing star Scott Fitzgerald has made a number of people within the sport ‘sit up and take notice’ after making his professional boxing debut on Saturday evening.
That is the view of his trainer Karl Ince, who was delighted with his fighter’s first foray into the paid ranks at the Manchester Arena.
Competing on the undercard of the blockbuster World Super Bantamweight title fight between Carl Frampton and Scott Quigg, light-middleweight Fitzgerald produced a classy performance to defeat Chippenham’s Ben Heap.
The fight – which was shown live on Sky Sports Box Office – ended in the third round after the Commonwealth Games gold medal winner floored Heap with a brutal left hook to the body.
Although the former English kickboxing champion managed to beat the count, the contest was over shortly after when Fitzgerald landed a clean right-hander to the head.
The 24-year-old’s performance drew praise ringside from former world champions Carl Froch – who was co-commentating on the bout – and fellow Sky pundit Johnny Nelson, while promoter Eddie Hearn was suitably impressed.
“We spoke to Eddie Hearn afterwards and he was very happy and impressed with Scott,” said Ince.
“Eddie said he’s got a bit of the style of the Mexican Canelo Álvarez – the WBC middleweight champion.
“Eddie was very keen to sign him up from day one because he knew his pedigree as an amateur. He’s got the style – his style is suited to the pro game.
“Scott made the weight easily – he’s a natural light-middleweight.
“He’s strong, he’s got the boxing ability, he’s got great footwork – it’s about getting the experience now as a pro.
“Eddie was saying that they are going to try to build his fan-base up before his next fight, but I don’t think he realises that he’s already got a lot of fans from Preston.”
Ince was pleased with Fitzgerald’s performance overall, even if he was a little too eager in the opening couple of rounds.
“He caught Heap early and I think that threw Scott off a bit because he tried to get it done early,” said Ince
“The idea was for him to go out and relax and enjoy his first professional fight.
“As soon as he settled down, he was great to watch. He pounded him with jabs and left hooks to the body.
“In the third round, he got him with a brutal left hook to the body.
“Heap was a very tough lad and I was very happy with Scott’s performance.”
Fitzgerald next appearance is scheduled for April 2 at the Liverpool Arena.
He is set to feature on the undercard of Callum Smith’s European super middleweight title fight against Hadillah Mohoumadi.