2019 Preview – Middleweight

Another day another preview and this time it’s one of the originals – middleweight.

One of the busiest weights in Ireland, there are plenty of fights to look forward to at all levels.

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

Middleweight – 160lbs (72.6kg)

World-Ranked
Jason Quigley [15(11)-0] made a winning return from a freak hand injury and a winning start to life under Dom Ingle last year. Now ranked #7 with the WBC and #11 with the WBA, 2019 is all about positioning and reading the Donegal man for a big title shot as well as building his profile and following on the U.S. East Coast.

His most recent outing, versus Freddy Hernandez excited but also showed that he still has not fully adjusted to the Wincobank way. Tough opposition to develop Quigley before any major title fights are the order of the day and there are any number of suggestions, from Gabe Rosado, to Tureano Johnson, or even Rob Brant.

At #11 with the WBO is Dubliner Luke Keeler [15(5)-2(1)-1] who saw his progress halted slightly when a back injury forced him out of a December fight with Brian Rose. Now back in training, the Ballyfermot boxer will be looking to move himself up the rankings and perhaps be seen as a ‘handy’ voluntary defence for champion Demetrius Andrade or whoever holds the brown strap over the next 12 months.

First though, a rematch with Conrad Cummings looks to be on the agenda and, with the Tyrone boxer acknowledged (although not ranked) by the WBO, it could help seriously boost his position on the table. Along with this, Keeler has also stated his interest in an ‘Ireland’s Best’ clash with Quigley.

Last Man Standing’s Last Stand
Athy’s Roy Sheahan [5(2)-0] is one of the most talented fighters in the country but, at 34, doesn’t have a long time left. Indeed, his time may already be up, with Sheahan noting that he will need a major financial incentive to fight on and make a real go at things. If he does get this, or even if he elects to train alongside his full-time job, ‘The Joker’ has the potential to do big things.

Considering his unappealing record and notable talents, it’s hard to imagine Sheahan getting a big away corner opportunity so it will have to be close to home if he is to do anything. The Kildare fighter is confident of beating anyone if he gets a full camp – hopefully he does in 2019.

Contenders
Conrad Cummings [16(7)-2(0)-1] reclaimed the WBO European belt last month and is closing in on Keeler. Whether this is advisable considering how the quite one-sided first fight played out and his lack of major fights since remains to be seen but the Tyrone fighter and his team are confident that the defeat was largely due to underperformance and are therefore keen to go again.

Another fight that is constantly mentioned in relation to Cummings is Alfredo Meli [15(4)-0-1] following their BBBoC Celtic title draw in 2014. The no-frills Belfast pressure fighter, however, is said to have become somewhat disillusioned with boxing which would be a major shame if so.

Following a lengthy recovery from eye surgery, Chris Blaney [10(3)-1(0)] is finally set to return. The Navan man is one who wouldn’t mind reigniting an old amateur rivalry with Cummings but it looks as though a fight with JJ McDonagh [16(8)-5(2)] is being built up, potentially for the Irish title. A Last Man Standing rematch with Jack Cullen is another fight we want to see.

McDonagh, probably more so than Blaney, is especially keen on this fight on a personal level and the Mullingar southpaw has been extremely vocal. Should TG4 return to televise more boxing in 2019, expect this bout to feature very prominently.

Finally, in Florida, one of Ireland’s most under-rated prospects continues to chug along. Connor Coyle [8(3)-0] was restricted to just one fight last year but steps up to ten rounds next month and could be set for a big year with appearances on Premier Boxing Champions cards a possibility.

Prospects
Caoimhin Agyarko [2(0)-0] has been going about things right since turning over last year, notching up two six-round wins in quick succession. A year of building is hoped for the London-based Frank Warren fighter, with regular sixes and a step up to eight by the end of the year – maybe even a BUI Celtic fight title back home in Belfast.

Stillorgan’s Cillian Reardon [4(0)-0] has defied all expectations since turning pro and continues to improve rapidly and the Dubliner is also targeting the BUI Celtic title. First though, the well-supported Leinster Rugby S&C coach needs another number of tough, well-matched fights.

Fight Anyone
Both Roscommon’s Darren Cruise [8(2)-6(0)] and Belfast’s Gerard Healy [7(0)-5(2)-1] continue to chase an elusive Irish title but both may need a good eight-round win before being sanctioned for the national belt – something which neither are overly delighted with. The BUI Celtic title, which would be exceedingly busy this year if we had our way, would offer a great pathway.

Derry’s Sean McGlinchey [2(0)-1(0)] would go to war with anybody and could be included in the above mix. Indeed, he was set to have a fight with Healy in late 2016. Activity is key for ‘Mummy’s Bhoy’ who still has plenty to give if he can get the fight down and the sharpness up.

Finally, there is Thomas Finnegan [2(0)-0] who did not fight at all in 2018. The vocal Tallaght puncher is keen on a fight with Blaney, and the feeling is mutual, but it remains to be seen if this is a feasible fight. Just getting Finnegan back in the ring, for now, is the main goal.

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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: [email protected]