Whether away from home, against the odds, or in the face of tough circumstances, there have been some major wins.
We recognise FIVE of these in the Performance of the Year category.
This award is named after Wayne McCullough who sensationally went to Japan in 1995 to dethrone WBC bantam champ Yasuei Yakushiji and, up until a certain Laois boxer this year, he was the only man from Britain or Ireland to win a world title fight in the Land of the Rising Sun.
Performance of the Year
Luke Keeler (v Conrad Cummings)
The Ballyfermot boxer put on a performance of equal skill and grit to dominate and defeat Irish middleweight rival Cummings. After winning the early rounds with boxing skills, Keeler was then to dig deep and stay smart during a crisis which saw horror cuts around both eyes – which were eventually stemmed by Niall Byrne in the undisputed cutsman performance of the year.
Carl McDonald (v Colin O’Donovan)
The Jobstown native turned his career around with an upset win over O’Donovan. Facing a bigger foe – and one who ended up being bigger than expected with the BUI Celtic title fight moving from super bantam to feather the morning beforehand – McDonald showed skill and grit, winning the early rounds before dropping O’Donovan to the body late on to halt a Cork comeback.
The Portlaoise puncher went to Tokyo, into the Lion’s Den, and came back with the IBF super bantamweight world title. The Sydney-based, Boston-trained boxer showed everything at the famous Korakuen Hall to defeat Ryosuke Iwasa, out-boxing, out-fighting, and out-thinking the champion to claim a unanimous decision win.
Kurt Walker (v Peter McGrail)
The Lisburn bantamweight had been beaten twice previously by the Scouser but nothing was going to stop him in the European Union Championships final. Not even a broken thumb suffered in the opening round could sway Walker from the game plan and he continued with a tactical masterclass to claim gold and strike a major psychological statement as the Tokyo Olympic cycle heats up.
Jay Byrne (v Marc Kerr)
The Loughlinstown road warrior had his final fight last month and pulled off his biggest win. Facing Scottish middleweight champ Kerr for the BBBoC Celtic light middleweight title, Byrne looked set to have the toe-toe war he was looking for following a number of defeats to skilful operators. However, ‘The Negotiator’ would instead overwhelm Kerr from the outside in a sensationally smart performance.
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