Unified world champions, ambitious prospects, and domestics galore, nine-nine is a great weight.
Lightweight – 135lbs (61.2kg)
Katie Taylor [12(5)-0] enters 2019 the unified WBA-IBF champion and becoming undisputed is one of many goals. The Wicklow woman and her team had a plan – WBO champ Rose Volante in March in Philadelphia, WBC champ Delfine Persoon during the summer, a super-fight with soon-to-be-seven-weight champ Amanda Serrano in the Autumn, and then potentially a battle of the undisputed champions with welterweight ‘First Lady’ Cecilia Brækhus.
Brækhus is a bit too far down the road to consider now but Persoon and Serrano seem to be lining up well. The March fight however could prove problematic with Brazilian Volante dragging her heels as she and her team try to extract the most money possible. This fight seems off the table for now – although things can move quickly
Taylor remains slightly ahead of the rising tide of women’s boxing – with the likes of Mikaela Mayer, Chantelle Cameron, and Estelle Mossely not in title contention just yet but, as we say, things can move quickly. What does look fairly certain, however, is that Taylor’s fights will take place predominantly on the East Coast of America, with an Irish homecoming seeming further away than ever.
Mayo’s Ray Moylette [11(4)-1(0)] was defeated by tough Mexican Christian Uruzquieta in their big TG4 fight in Castlebar last month. The manner of the defeat – an epic canvas-climbing split-decision – is some consolation and will hopefully ensure that the cameras return West later this year. First though, it seems, is a fight in Boston.
Moylette’s Celtic Warriors gym-mate Stephen Ormond [26(13)-5(1)] turns 36 in April but prolonged his career with a win over the WBO-ranked George Ashie last time out. Things have been quiet since that August fight but expect Dubliner Ormond to have more competitive fights this year – with every time he steps into the ring being possibly his last fight should he lose.
One fight that many would like to see is a rematch with Paul Hyland Jr [19(8)-1(1)] but talk of this has cooled. The Belfast fighter returns next month in a tough bout versus Czech champ Miroslav Serban and after that wants to return to title fights – with IBF European rankings titleholder Robbie Barrett being his main target.
Also looking to crash the party is Gary Cully [7(4)-0] who is keen to face the winner of the Irish title fight between Feargal McCrory and Karl Kelly. However, the insanely-ambitious Naas southpaw also has his eyes on a world ranking and an extreme fast-track so could feasibly be beyond this level within a couple of fights. Still only 22, he wants big fights and the likes of Barrett, Uruzquieta, and Hyland are in his immediate sights.
Finally, in this bracket, is Anto Upton [17(6)-2(0)]. The talented Belfast fighter has not boxed since his loss to Tyrone McKenna back in April and a move down to lightweight has been mooted. He would be a handful for anyone here and has shown a willingness for domestics – indeed, fights with any of the above four would be great.
The Irish Title
In a surprise move, Coalisland super feather Feargal McCrory [9(3)-0] has stepped up in weight to box for the 135lbs national title on the MHD show at the Ulster Hall next month. ‘Fearless Feargal’ takes on Dubliner Karl Kelly [2(0)-2(0)] for the green belt and, should he win, it is unclear whether he will jump back down to super feather or continue to build at lightweight. If Monkstown’s Kelly pulls off the win the fight-anyone slugger has promised to face both Cully and Martin Quinn [2(0)-1(0)].
Quinn was controversially edged by Kelly in a six-rounder last November and an immediate rematch for the BUI Celtic title seemed inevitable before the McCrory-Kelly news broke. Frustrated, Quinn will likely continue on Celtic Clash 8 – and an eight rounder here, potentially against continental opposition for the BUI Celtic belt, would make sense.
Following one fight in two years, Joe Fitzpatrick [8(5)-0] is finally back and in the right frame of mind to make a real go at the sport. This starts on the Ulster Hall show next month versus fellow West Belfast fighter Stephen Webb [1(0)-0] who is plunging almost directly into all-Irish matches and looking to make a real statement.
West Belfast has plenty of fighters aiming to move up through the ranks, with both Mark Morris [3(1)-2(2)] and Mathew Fitzsimons [3(2)-1(1)] aiming to rebound from stoppages last time out. This wouldn’t be a bad derby either!
This year we will welcome Waterford puncher Michael Duggan to the fray. The Déise puncher is one of a number of fighters that have signed up with Boxing Ireland. Expect a debut date soon.
Over in America, then, there is Stevie McKenna and the Monaghan man will be looking to go down the same path as his younger brother Aaron. The former amateur star has been impressing in the gyms of LA and is another that we await fight news for soon.
2018 will also see us properly introduced to James Power [2(2)-0]. The Cork puncher isn’t able to box in Ireland until after he turns 18 in April but has already received considerable coverage following two wins in Tijuana.