Whether or not this is a good thing is a debate for another piece but there is undoubtedly more young talent in the pros than there has been in many decades.
Numerous fighters that would have been seen as prospects for Tokyo 2020 – or even Paris 2024 – are punching for pay and building their pro careers.
Below Irish-Boxing.com go through, in alphabetical order, our top ten young prospects currently rising through the ranks.
For the arbitrary purpose of this piece, all boxers included are 22 or younger.
An explosive counter-puncher, ‘Black Thunder’ is making a name for himself with those in the know in British boxing. Already with three six-rounders under his belt along with backing from Frank Warren, Agyarko has enjoyed the perfect start thus far and a move down to light middle looks a good switch. He enters a good domestic scene and will be in exciting fights but he can certainly go further considering his talent and profile.
The Sandy Row puncher possesses legitimately fearsome power as well as underrated technical skill having won European Schoolboys bronze as an amateur where he was also a multiple Irish champion. Backed promotionally by Frank Warren, ‘The Croc’ has seen his career stall recently, with a BBBoC Celtic title fight with Martin Harkin in December falling through. Out of action since last August, Crocker returns next week at the Ulster Hall and is thankfully still young. The aforementioned Celtic belt will be contested by Harkin and Burt at the end of the month and Crocker will want to be first in line for a shot at the winner.
The Naas southpaw had the makings of a top-level amateur, winning European Youth gold before electing to go pro. The most advanced prospect on this list, Cully aims to be in contention for major titles by the end of the decade not to mention having ambitions to move through the weights. Freakishly proportioned to the degree where he could win an ‘rest round’ on the jab, the 6’2″ ‘Diva’ has a sensational speed and snap to his punches that has and will result in many flash knockdowns – a pure nightmare to fight.
The well-supported Ballinacarrow boxer was a good amateur often edged out by more illustrious names. Rangy, skilled, and popular, the Yeats County youngster is a dark horse to warch for. A potential star of the Celtic Clash series and a fighter to build things around, Gethins plans to build gradually but is aiming high.
One of the most decorated underage boxers in Irish history with five European medals and nine national titles, Joyce was unable to replicate this success at Senior level following loss of his beloved father. The Moate man has opted for a fresh start and has relocated to Scotland for an interesting link-up with Billy Nelson. A strong southpaw brimming with pure natural talent, Joyce could do damage if he can avoid finding himself in the ‘who needs him?’ club.
‘The Silencer’ doesn’t speak much but is open and honest in his desire to win world honours in the next two years. The Golden Boy prospect’s progression may need to be stepped up slightly for this to happen but, regardless, McKenna is doing all the work needed outside of the ring. Living in L.A., the Smithborough teen and European Schoolboys gold medallist is, alongside his brother, one of the hardest workers in Irish boxing and is getting invaluable rounds in on the dog-eat-dog West Coast scene.
The Commonwealth Youth gold and European Youth silver medallist has settled into lightweight and is working like a demon in Los Angeles, turning heads in sparring. While Aaron is more a relentless pressure fighter, Stevie is slightly more surgical but no less exciting. Treading water somewhat at the minute without a major deal, McKenna continues to build steadily under the radar and, like all on this list, has time on his side.
The start of a new generation of Irish female pros, the lilywhite was far younger than any before her turning over. Pro-styled but with real amateur pedigree having won European Junior and World Youth bronze, Phelan has all the tools. In a shallow division, the younger sister of Allan could aim for success at light welter initially before aiming towards a long-term move to lightweight which has emerged as the glamour class of women’s boxing.
The youngest Irish pro of the modern era, Power turned over at 17 and has built a nice little record already. While he may not have the amateur credentials of the rest of this list, albeit he was still an Irish champion, Power has plenty going for him. A ferocious work ethic, a gritty pro style, and a well screwed-on head, the well-known Dripsey student could go far with the right guidance.
Now living in Australia, Wallace has already won and defended the Queensland title and will soon, surely, box for Australia honours. Already boasting a win over the New South Wales champ, who boxes for the Aussie title next, Wallace is tearing through the domestc Down Under scene – an area which offers a perhaps ‘easier’ route to the rankings and has proven to be the perfect starting spot for the likes of TJ Doheny and Dennis Hogan. Wallace, who is highly-rated by Steve Deller, hopes to be the next big Irish-Australian star.
Intermediate champ and Crumlin powerhouse Senan Kelly [0-0] looks to have more about him than most entering the small hall scene while Limerick welter Paddy Donovan [0-0], if he does indeed turn pro, is an obvious choice for the list above but nothing is yet confirmed. Then there is Cork welter Danny Keating [3(3)-0] who has impressed Down Under and Tyrone feather Callum Bradley [1(0)-0] who looks plenty slick.