Ireland’s final pro show of the year, it has been continous action here at the National Stadium in Dublin since the early evening.
Roscommon middleweight Darren Cruise started the show off in style against Hungarian Janos Varga. In his first fight since a narrow Irish title loss to Luke Keeler, Cruise eased his way into the contest before upping the pace in the second, stunning Varga with a big right, backing him into the corner, and forcing the referee to intervene.
Wicklow welter James Cahill [2(0)-0] was then given a real test by Zambian Mwenya Chisanga. After buzzing the African in the first and at the start of the second, Cahill found himself hurt and up against the ropes taking big shots. The 19 year old would recover however to see out the round, retake control in the third, and finish extremely strongly to claim a 39-37 win on the card.
‘The Firecracker’ Dylan McDonagh [2(1)-0] then gave a sensational performance to stop Robert Kanalas, setting on the Hungarian early, backing him into a corner, and forcing an early stoppage through relentless bodyshots.
After a bit of a break, fans were treated to an absolute barnstormer between Crumlin lightweight Martin Quinn [2(1)-0] and Spaniard Iago Barros. The visitor had come to fight, throwing huge fights from the off and pushing Quinn back. The Dubliner improved in the second, but then was hurt in the third and had to dig extremely deep to fight off the ropes as his fans roared him on. Going into a potentially decisive last round, Quinn started to box more, throwing combinations, before some big shots at the end from Barros – who received a huge applause for his efforts. Quinn got the win on the card, 39-37, however it could easily have been a draw.
Next up was Bernard Roe [6(1)-0], who took on experienced English journeyman Willie Warburton over six. Roe pushed the action early, as Warburton fought, and had success, intermittently off the ropes. A low blow from the Dublin light middle caused a pause in the fourth – before a clash of heads left Roe cut on the scalp while Warburton nursed a bad gash to the side of his left eye. The fight opened up in the fifth as Roe began to push heavily for a stoppage and this would continue into the final round as he claimed a 59-55 points win.
Ballybrack light welter Niall O’Connor [2(1)-0] did as he promised, and put on a show. Between Lomachenko-style guard-pulls and constant calls from Tony Davitt to ‘stop acting the ballix,’ O’Connor certainly entertained. The flashy Dubliner hurt Spaniard Manuel Prieto in the second round before forcing the stoppage in the third, forcing his bloodied opponent to take a knee and leading to the towel being thrown in.
BUI Celtic light middleweight champion Craig O’Brien [7(0)-0] then eased past Poland’s Daniel Przewieslik – whose brother is a priest based in Dublin. Inner-city stylist O’Brien moved well and raided the visitor throughout with sharp bursts. From the fourth onwards, the Pole looked to be having trouble, as O’Brien became increasingly dominant, but the visitor stood firm. ‘The Iron’ won every round on the card as he rounds off a resurgent year.
Making his debut on the card, with a huge crowd travelling up from Limerick, light middleweight Graham McCormack O’Shea showed that he is going to be in some exciting fights. Opponent Richard Baba had him hurt in the opener, but the southpaw debutant soon settled and it was one-way traffic from there as McCormack O’Shea grabbed a 39-37 win.
Lucan welter John Joyce [3(2)-0] rounded out the early undercard with a second round stoppage of Hungarian human yo-yo Imre Simon. The visitor hit the floor, officially, five times before the bout was waved off – along with a few dubious slips thrown in for good measure.