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2019 Preview – Heavyweight & Cruiserweight

The January blues are well and truly upon us as it is now time for our eleventh and final preview for the year ahead.

Here we look at the big men, the cruiserweights and heavyweights, from prospects to contenders.

You can also read all ten previous previews below

READ: Super Middleweight & Light Heavyweight PREVIEW

READ: Middleweight PREVIEW

READ: Light Middleweight PREVIEW

READ: Welterweight PREVIEW

READ: Light Welterweight PREVIEW

READ: Lightweight PREVIEW

READ: Super Featherweight PREVIEW

READ: Featherweight PREVIEW

READ: Bantamweight & Super Bantamweight PREVIEW

READ: Light Flyweight, Flyweight, Super Flyweight PREVIEW

Cruiserweight – 200lbs (90.7kg)

Chasing the World
Cork-based Cuban cruiser, and proud Irish citizen, Mike Perez [24(15)-3(1)-1] scored a career-boosting win last time out when he defeated Keith Tapia in a World Boxing Super Series alternate bout and he should progress to feature in another alternate bout during the semi-finals versus the likes of Yury Kashinsky or Arthur Mann.

Of course, if one or more of the four semi-finalists – Mairis Breidis, Krzysztof Glowacki, Andrew Tabiti, or Yunier Dorticos – is forced to pull out and then ‘The Rebel’ could be in the frame to step in. Indeed, with Oleksandr Usyk’s four belts potentially set to be distributed across the two semi-finals, Perez fighting for world honours again in 2019 isn’t the most far-fetched suggestion.

Big Fights
Tommy McCarthy [12(6)-1(0)] is finally back boxing regularly under new manager Mark Dunlop and it can be expected that he will be manoeuvred into domestic title fights on big Matchroom cards. Lawrence Okolie is the obvious long-term target, with Team McCarthy already turning down a short-notice opportunity while the Lenadoon man recovered from a hand injury. Before that though there are potential fights with the likes of Isaac Chamberlain, Craig Glover, or even Luke Watkins.

Now up at cruiser, Stevie Collins Jr [13(4)-2(0)-1] wants to continue having big fights. The Dubliner was set to face Scottish big man Jay McFarlane for the BBBoC Celtic title back in November but this bout fell through – perhaps it could be refixed for 2019. Another idea is an all-Irish fight with McCarthy.

Dubliner Johnny Corcoran [2(2)-0] has notable power and, as he is not a ticket seller, can be expected to be seen in the away corner this year. Don’t be surprised if the Tallaght puncher causes a shock or two on the road.

Bubbling Under
Following a great start to pro life, Gary Sweeney [4(4)-0] did not fight at all in 2018 due to an abscess on his coccyx. With this remedied, and with Sweeney now training under Derry Mathews, expect the Ballinrobe big-hitter to resume ripping through his pro apprenticeship. Still on 24, Sweeney is a massively underrated prospect.

Antrim’s Conor Cooke [2(1)-0] has looked very good so far. The MMA (re)convert is keen to develop and fight as regularly as possible – and is one that will definitely benefit from an expected upsurge in Belfast small hall shows in 2019.

Also this year we will welcome Kerry’s Kevin Cronin to the pros. The Kingdom Warrior has signed with Boxing Ireland Promotions and is set to debut on the soon-to-be-announced ‘Celtic Clash 8’ card.

Warrenpoint’s Declan Trainor [2(2)-1(1)] has toyed with the idea of returning to the pro game following over five years away and he is one we hope to see in the ring in 2019. Another is Michael Gallagher [1(1)-0] who has not fought since his hugely impressive debut in 2017. The Donegal youngster has bags of talent and plenty of time.

Heavyweight – +200lbs (+90.7kg)

The American Dream
Wexford Garda Niall Kennedy [12(7)-0-1] is definitely one that can benefit from the DAZN money pouring into boxing in America. The Murphys Boxing man had a relatively slow 2018 following his sensational win over Alexis Santos the year before and will be looking to get into big fights soon with named and known opponents. Skilful, determined, and extremely fit Kennedy could prove a handful for any number of heavyweight contenders and is capable of springing another surprise

Back on the Horse
Sean Turner [12(8)-3(1)] took two away corner shots in 2018 and came up short, losing to Nathan Gorman and Filip Hrgovic. Both powerful and talented, if the Dubliner can add long-term commitment to his arsenal then there is no reason why he can’t have more big wins like his away corner upset over Arnold Gjergjaj.

Turner’s long-time amateur rival Con Sheehan [6(1)-0] has not been active at all and is frustrated at this fact. If the Tipp fighter, who is still only 29, can catch a break in 2019 then he can cause a lot of trouble. Sheehan himself is keen on an all-Irish showdown with Turner – and so are we.

Going For It
Paddy Nevin [2(0)-0] racked up two quick wins towards the end of last year and looks set to be built rapidly in 2019. The Swords big man is hoping to move into Irish title contention in double quick time so expect early six and eight rounders. If he can keep pace with this fast-track then there’s a potential big fight with Kennedy on the mooted Dylan Moran Homecoming card in Waterford later this year – which could then become a double homecoming.


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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