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2018 Preview: Welterweights

Our biggest preview yet sees us look at Ireland’s most populated class – the welterweights.

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

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

Read our preview of the super featherweights HERE.

Read our preview of the lightweights HERE.

Read our preview of the light welterweights HERE.

Welterweight – 147lbs (66.7kg)
Irish title – vacant
BUI Celtic title – Jay Byrne

Big Fights
Irish fighters currently hold the two secondary BBBoC belts, with Paddy Gallagher [13(8)-2(0)] the Celtic champion while Galway’s John O’Donnell [32(11)-2(1)] is the English champion. A British title fight between the pair – with Bradley Skeete set to vacate – would seem to make sense. First though, O’Donnell needs to defend his English title in a final eliminator against Gallagher defeator Tamuka Mucha on February 16th. Regardless of the result in this fight, Gallagher will be angling to fight the winner – with an all-Irish clash or a chance of revenge both being desirable.

Across the Atlantic is Noely Murphy [12(2)-0] in New York and he takes a big step up against Mikkel LesPierre on February 7th. Both he and Gallagher have claims to being Ireland’s number one welterweight, however that match-up seems unlikely – as does a match-up with the returning Dean Byrne [18(6)-6(2)-2]. A potential fight for Murphy which makes logistical sense would be with the Boston-based Donegal fighter Michael McLaughlin Owen [12(5)-2(0)-1], and an appearance in another Irish hub on the U.S. East Coast may appeal to the Cork fighter’s promoter Lou DiBella.

Jay Byrne [6(2)-3(1)] scored a huge win in December, stopping the previously undefeated Crank Whitehouse in the fourth of their BUI Celtic title fight. The Loughlinstown man looks set to continue his blend of big fights away with domestic tussles at home – and seems especially keen for a fight with Belfast’s Matt Wilton [16(3)-0].

Speaking of Whitehouse [7(2)-1(0)], a move down to light welter, if possible, would look to be a good route to go as the Balbriggan fighter was drastically outsized by Byrne last month

Wilton on the other hand is eligible for the BBBoC English title and is eager to go for this belt – which should become vacant soon after the O’Donnell v Mucha fight.

One of the quickest developing of all the new pros, John Joyce [3(2)-0] should move into domestic contention this year. The Lucan fighter steps up to six rounds next month and a title challenge versus Byrne – whom he defeated in the amateurs and who defeated his stablemate Whitehouse – looks to make a lot of sense

Hot Shots
Lewis Crocker [4(4)-0] had a sensational debut year, and it’s hard to envision any domestic bouts for ‘The Croc’. Instead, much like fellow Elite prospect Gary Cully, a fight with an Area level opponent such a Andy Keates or Daniel Cope would be a perfect milestone for 2018.

One fight which we especially would like to see is an all-Waterford welterweight clash between Dylan Moran [3(2)-0] and Rohan Date [3(2)-0]. With Ring Kings coming on the scene in Déise country and getting behind Date – while Moran’s team are eager for their man to fight for domestic belts this year – it’s a local tear-up that has the potential to capture the imagination.

Young Aaron McKenna [1(0)-0] will be built in America this year and, while he was given a tough debut fight, it’s hard to imagine the teenager being matched too aggressively. It would make sense to have McKenna fight on the East Coast – however it may be a bit early for a bout with Athlone-born Boston-based Paddy Irwin [4(3)-0].

If Boxing Ireland Promotions want to keep it in-house, a fight between young talents Keane McMahon [1(0)-0] and James Cahill [2(0)-0] could be one for later in the year. This could also be opened up into a triangle considering the outfit’s upcoming expansion into the Belfast market – and a fight between Cahill and Tony Nellins [3(0)-0-1] is a guaranteed war.

This year we also welcome Luke Boyle to the pros, and the Crumlin youngster is expected to debut soon.

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