2019 Derry pro boxing show close to being finalised

Professional boxing is nearing a return to the city of Derry after over 37 years.

Not since European champion and World title challenger Charlie Nash defeated Frank McCord in the Guildhall in September 1982 has the Maiden City played host to a pro boxing event but a card is in the advanced stages of planning.

It is hoped that a card will be ran in the city at some time in March 2019, potentially St Patrick’s Weekend, at the Foyle Arena.

Since 1982, a tightening of British Boxing Board of Control regulations means that that a show can’t be sanctioned Derry due to health and safety regulations.

The city is slightly too far, by a matter of minutes, from the nearest neurological unit in Northern Ireland [by car], ruling out the possibility of a show.

Long-term, the A6 Dungiven to Drumahoe works will solve the issue as it would make the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast more accessible. However, this construction is not expected to be finished for another four years.

In the meantime, a cross-border cross-board solution will not be entertained but other avenues are being explored by Seamus Cunning.

The hard-working Derry boxing man is an agent of Tyrone McCullagh and manager of Sean McGlinchey, two of the city’s three current pros (Connor Coyle is currently based in Florida) and is also the driving force behind the Derry City Boxing Promotions Group.

A helicopter air ambulance solution, albeit an extremely costly one, has been floated while Cunning also has a plan of bringing a neurosurgeon to an in-range medical facility.

Noting the progress of preparations, Cunning told the Derry News that “we have everything in place bar the medical issue for now.”

“With the council’s support we have to strike now for Derry and work out some way to make it happen.”

“We’re looking at ways to get around this, maybe having a neurosurgeon in Altnagelvin on the night or the air ambulance as a back-up.”

Cunning, a BUI-registered manager, is not currently a BBBoC-registered promoter and, while he would no doubt do the lion’s share of the work around any show, he is likely to have some sort of assistance in this regard.

Irish-Boxing.com understands that management outfit MTK Global would provide backing through one of their registered promoters Lee Eaton or Johnney Roye.

Indeed, from this stable, super bantamweight McCullagh is the obvious headliner of any Derry show and there is also a TV link here through BoxNation.

A sensational 2018 for ‘White Chocolate’ saw him pick up the BBBoC Celtic and WBO European titles. Now ranked #13 with the WBO, he will be looking to move up the ladder in 2019 as he chases new champion Emanuel Navarrete.

One fight which has been suggested is Irish champion Carl McDonald [5(0)-2(0)] although McCullagh is not keen on the contest as he believes himself to be levels above ‘The Cobra’.

Middleweight McGlinchey [2(0)-1(0)] would be another certainty for the card. ‘Mummy’s Bhoy’ took a mutually short notice clash with Padraig McCrory back in October, his first fight back after over a year out, and lost a competitive contest on points.

It is unsure whether Coyle and his team could be tempted home for such a card but it is certainly possible and boxers from all around Ulster would be keen to get on the bill.

Cunning is excited by the idea of the card and believes it will become a reality.

He outlined how “it’s a golden era for Derry boxing, with three professional boxers, we’ve never had that at the one time before and it’s a case of now or never.”

“I’m very, very confident it will happen this time!”


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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