From fighters looking to fight for world titles to fighters looking to establish themselves as the best in Ireland, the eleven-stone division is extremely exciting.
Light Middleweight – 154lbs (69.9kg)
Outside of his own fights, result after result and behind-the-scenes decision after behind-the-scenes decision has seemed to go against Dennis Hogan [28(7)-1(0)-1] but the Kilcullen puncher is now finally guaranteed a world title fight. Hogan will box for the WBO light middleweight belt in his next contest.
The brown belt is currently held by Jaime Munguia and the young Mexican defends against Japanese voluntary Takeshi Inoue later this month. Whoever wins this fight – and Munguia is heavily favoured to do so – will have to defend against Hogan. Questions, though, continue to be asked on how long the champion can keep making the 154lbs limit and a vacant title fight could be on the horizon for Hogan – with English star Kell Brook the likely opponent.
Hogan is a big practitioner of visualisation and pictures an Irish homecoming world title defence every day. Should the lilywhite claim world honours, he and his team have earmarked Cork’s Spike O’Sullivan [29(20)-3(2)] as their preferred first defence. The Mahon man, of course, is up for this although, backed by Golden Boy Promotions, he is sure to have plenty of opportunities in 2019. O’Sullivan has also been mooted as a potential Munguia voluntary and expect the Celtic Warriors man to fight for a WBO rankings title soon to get himself in the picture for one last assault on world honours.
Dubliner Craig O’Brien [9(1)-1(1)] is Irish champion and now looks set to make his American debut in Match and he could make a real impact in Boston. Pauly Upton [15(3)-1(1)] took a shot against Ted Cheeseman and came up short but there is still plenty for him at domestic level. His brother, Sonny Upton [12(5)-3(1)] has not fought since his short-notice English title loss to Matty Ryan almost two years ago. Then there is Rio Olympian Steven Donnelly from Ballymena who has raced to 4(0)-0 since debuting in August.
There is plenty going on amongst these four, too. Before even debuting, Donnelly was keen on a fight with Pauly Upton who was once Irish champion. The Belfast boxer was stripped and Craig O’Brien subsequently beat Jay Byrne to pick up the belt. Following this, younger brother Sonny Upton began to call for a fight with ‘The Iron’. For our money though, O’Brien and Donnelly is a fight we’d like to see.
The Cinderella Story
41-year-old Peter McDonagh [28(3)-28(2)-2] is looking for one final belt to round off his career. Having seen a fight with Kieran Smith fall through in November, three-weight Irish champion McDonagh has today been left disappointed again to see his newest target, WBC International Silver champion Michael McKinson, have a fight announced with Ryan Kelly. Perhaps a clash with one of the four mentioned above would appeal to the Galway veteran.
The small hall scene in the South of Ireland has plenty of talent coming through.
Graham McCormack [3(0)-0] saw a December domestic with Jordan Latimer [2(0)-1(1)] and then Jade Karam [9(4)-9(4)-2] scuppered but the Limerick southpaw will be hopping that either of these fights can be refixed for some time soon. The Garryowen ticket-seller also has hopes of boxing coming back to Limerick at some stage during the year.
Boxing could also be on the way to Cavan via Shercock’s Owen Duffy [3(2)-0]. His management, Assassin, hope to have him headline a dinner show of some sort in the county. Duffy’s old amateur rival, Dominic Donegan, has turned pro with Boxing Ireland Promotions and it would make sense, indeed it would be a no-brainer, for the Drumgoon man to be built quickly to facilitate a Cavan derby for the BUI Celtic title.
Also at light middle, and having impressed in his two fights so far, is Bray’s Eddie Treacy [2(1)-0]. Despite being a relative novice, the likeable slugger has stated his desire to entertain and is one we can expect to see in all-Irish fights in 2019.
Following a long gap, Tony Senior [10(7)-0] got two fights in Down Under last year and it is hoped that the highly-rated Crumlin puncher can get some momentum going in Australia in 2019.
Sheriff Street’s Bernard Roe [6(1)-0] went through injury hell in 2018, not fighting in Irelnd’s Lst Man Standing or, indeed, at all. Another real talent, we have our fingers crossed for a return to the ring this year
Lurgan’s Ryan Greene [7(1)-1(1)] also did not fight in 2018 and seems to be out of the fighting side of things but there is still a chance that we might see the Team Wilton boxer back in the ring one more time.