Super Middleweight – 168lbs (76.2kg)
Irish champion – JJ McDonagh
BUI Celtic champion – Chris Blaney
The current holder of the green belt is JJ McDonagh [14(7)-3(1)], however the Mullingar man has stated his intention to move down to middleweight – and a solid bet would be that the Assassin-managed fighter takes on the winner of the Assassin co-promoted Ireland’s Last Man Standing tournament for the Irish title.
McDonagh’s stablemate Vladimir Belujsky [1(1)-0-2] scored an eye-catching stoppage over Manny Bique in October and is keen to be kicked on this year. The Bratislava-born Cork fighter wants to win both the Slovakian and Irish titles and, if he claims the Slovak belt, he could then challenge for the strap which will likely soon be vacated by McDonagh. The pair both box tomorrow night in Mexico.
Pádraig McCrory [2(1)-0] is primed for a big year and faces Manny Bique [0-2(1)] – who proved his mettle against Chris Mullally – on February 10th. There have been calls by both fighters for McCrory to take on Tallaght middleweight Thomas Finnegan on the Frampton-Donaire bill on April 21st, however with a packed card and no Queensberry/MTK link for either this looks unlikely.
Waterford’s Craig McCarthy [2(0)-0] becomes a headliner on February 17th at the WIT Arena. Like McCrory, the Déise fighter is older than most prospects and needs to be brought along swiftly. Fights for either with the likes of game English away fighters such as Anthony Fox and Greg O’Neill would certainly serve a purpose in this respect.
Finally, there is Tyrone’s Taylor McGoldrick [1(0)-0] who can be afforded some time to develop having only recently returned to the sport, debuting in Belfast last month.
Light Heavyweight – 175lbs (79.4kg)
Irish champion – Paddy McDonagh
BUI Celtic champion – vacant
After returning from over two years out, niggling injuries have prevented Paddy McDonagh [11(0)-2(0)] from building on his sensational Irish title win over Stevie Collins Jr. A fight with Bristol-Galway fighter David Bailey [7(1)-0] has been proposed and looks to be the perfect next move for both fighters.
Since losing to McDonagh, Stevie Collins [12(4)-1(0)-1] has switched trainers from his uncle Paschal to Stevie O’Rourke and is currently in the process of being rebuilt. The Castleknock puncher has spoken of a major fight in 2018 which intrigues. A bout against former Celtic title challenger Nathan King, which was initially meant to take place back in November 2015, would be a good start before perhaps an all-Irish fight.
While the Irish belt looks to be tied up, a Dublin v Belfast battle with Steven Ward [6(2)-0] – as suggested by Carl Frampton – has the ingredients to be a proper good tear-up that would brilliantly kick off a big Belfast bill. It was a busy debut year for Ward and there are plenty of other domestic bouts for the Commonwealth silver medalist too, including the likes of Jermain Asare or the Paddy Fitzpatrick-trained Sam Smith.
After returning to the sport after a few years out, Kildare’s Chris Mullally [2(0)-0] was involved in a pair of exciting bouts at the end of last year. With time still on his side, the Newbridge man can be brought along slowly in 2018 as he looks to build up his stamina – because there definitely is talent there.