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2018 Preview – Super Featherweight

Our look at the year ahead for an Irish boxing┬ácontinues as we turn our attentions to arguably the most exciting weight on the island – super featherweight.

Read our preview of the flyweight, super flyweight, and bantamweight divisions HERE.

Read our preview of the super bantamweight and featherweight divisions HERE.

Super Featherweight – 130lbs (59kg)
Irish title – vacant
BUI Celtic title – vacant

At the Top
Regardless of your thoughts on the matter, James Tennyson [20(16)-2(2)] currently finds himself at #4 in the WBA rankings after winning and defending the organisation’s ‘International’ belt last year versus Ryan Doyle and Darren Traynor respectively. Is he ready for – or does he warrant – a world title fight? In short – no, but much stranger things have happened in boxing.

With champion Alberto Machado defending against #2 Rafael Mensah, #1 Jesus Cuellar set to drop out of the ladder, and #3 Gervonta Davis looking likely to move up in weight, Tennyson could find himself in pole position for a shot – especially if he can secure an eligible opponent to defend his rankings title against when he next takes to the ring on February 3rd.

Should ‘The Assassin’ secure a shot, he would most likely need to travel, he would be a huge underdog, but he undoubtedly has equalising power in both hands – go for it!

Ireland’s Best Weight?
With Tennyson and his team understandably focusing on a potential world title tilt, the dream all-Belfast bout with Anto Cacace [16(7)-1(0)] looks unlikely in the immediate future. ‘The Apache’ was edged by new European champion Martin J Ward for the British and Commonwealth belts last Summer, but is more than capable at this level and hopefully can secure further big domestic title fights.

There may be major debate over it, but the rematch between Jono Carroll [15(2)-0] and Declan Geraghty [15(4)-2(1)] remains the biggest fight in Irish boxing. Currently rumoured to be on the Katie Taylor homecoming card, its cancellation from the Frampton bill in November and the subsequent fallout has only served to increase the profile and value of the fight.

It’s do-or-die now for John Joe Nevin [9(4)-0] too. The Olympic silver medalist steps up in Philadelphia in March and really needs to kick on after a stop-start four years as a pro. The Mullingar Shuffler has said he will fight any of the other Irish fighters – however there are no natural rivalries currently.

There are some parallels though to fellow Mullingar man Davey Oliver Joyce [5(4)-0]. While this former top amateur’s start to pro life has gone swimmingly, Joyce turns 31 next month and really needs to be stepped up in 2017.

Finally in this middle tier is Feargal McCrory [7(3)-0] who had a breakthrough 2017 and the Coalisland fighter has plenty of options. He may personally want a rematch with Callum Busuttil after an illness-affected showing last time out, while there are potential title fights later in the year. Should Cacace move to the next level and vacate his BBBoC Celtic belt, a clash between McCrory and Belfast-based Scot Ronnie Clark would appeal.

There are so many new fighters at the weight and, such is the growing trend in Irish boxing, expect a few match-ups within this group.

One such fight already seems nailed on, and that is a rematch of the recent Fight of the Year contender between Sallynoggin’s Stephen McAfee [2(2)-0-1] and Youghal’s Colin O’Donovan [1(1)-1(1)-1]. Their six-round war now looks likely to be repeated over eight for the BUI Celtic super featherweight title. We can’t wait.

Monkstown’s Karl Kelly [1(0)-0] looks to be following in the footsteps of his manager Jay Byrne, and has taken a fight with top English prospect Lucas Ballingall in Belfast on February 3rd. Win, lose, or draw, Kelly showed enough in his debut versus Damian Lawniczak to suggest he will be in some terrific domestic dust-ups.

One of these potential dust-ups is with former Crumlin amateur talent Aiden Metcalfe [1(0)-0] – who was also involved in a enthralling debut fight with Lawniczak – and the pair have already exchanged some hostile words.

Next month Dan McShane [9(3)-1(1)] will make his return to the ring in Belfast. Fan-favourite ‘Insane’ has been fond of a call-out in the past, and he has recently suggested a fight with rangey youngster Mathew Fitzsimons [3(2)-0] which could be a nice MHD Europa headliner later in the year.


Joe O'Neill

Reporting on Irish boxing the past five years. Work has appeared on irish-boxing.com, Boxing News, the42.ie, and local and national media. Provide live ringside updates, occasional interviews, and special features on the future of Irish boxing. email: joneill6@tcd.ie