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2019 Preview – Welterweight

Our seventh preview and it’s time for Ireland’s busiest weight.

There are around 20 welterweights from this island currently operating and 2019 will, hopefully, be the year when we get a number of big domestic clashes.

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

Welterweight – 147lbs (66.7kg)

Paddy Power
At the top of the tree is Paddy Gallagher [15(9)-4(0)] who claimed a stoppage win over Jay Byrne last year to rubber stamp this position. The Lenadoon puncher is now looking for big fights outside of Ireland and has called out almost everyone on the British scene and beyond.

A title challenge of new British champion Johnny Garton seems the most logical and likely next step but there are other avenues that could be explored. Fearsome European champion Kerman Lejaragga has been mentioned while Frankie Gavin suggested a showdown over Christmas. Then there is America where the fan-friendly Gallagher could make a real splash.

Whatever and wherever it is, it will be entertaining.

The Domestic Puzzle
Jay Byrne [8(2)-6(2)] effectively retired from boxing following his BBBoC Celtic title win over Marc Kerr in November but the Loughlinstown man admits he will return if he is given the opportunity to box for the Irish title. Currently, though, there is some domestic gridlock.

Waterford’s Dylan Moran [8(5)-0] is currently the only domestic contender eligible to fight for the Irish title but he and his team intend to do a period of building overseas before returning in a big Waterford homecoming fight in Autumn. Lucan’s John Joyce [7(4)-0] has a number of sixes under his belt and is prime for a step up to eight but his target is America and an all-Irish fight with Cork light welter Noely Murphy [12(2)-1(0)-1] in New York.

Byrne is close with the team of Keane McMahon [5(2)-0] and the Smithfield slickster is said to be stepping up to eight next to potentially build a clash – while there is also another Waterford talent in Rohan Daté [6(5)-0-1] who is closing in on eligibility and is another that is extremely keen on fighting for the Irish belt.

There have been any number of call-out and fight suggestions among these five over the past twelve months and we HAVE to see an Irish title fight involving two of them at some stage in 2019.

Top Prospects
Away from the intriguing glove triangle (well, pentagon) above, there are a number of fighters coming through that are not in the picture for Irish or BUI Celtic title fights but are definitely targeting belts in 2019.

In Belfast there is Lewis Crocker [7(6)-0], an elite-rated prospect who saw a BBBoC Celtic title fight fall through last month. Hopefully this fight with Martin Harkin can be re-fixed for his next contest as he looks to close in on British title level by the end of the year.

In America the similarly highly-rated Aaron McKenna [6(4)-0] is causing a stir on the West Coast. The Monaghan teenager his time on his side but plans to be a world champion inside the next two years. This year, at least, he will need to stay busy with plenty of sixes and eights against durable opposition.

Then there is Danny Keating [3(3)-0] Down Under. The Cork youngster is turning heads in Sydney with a serious of statement stoppages and a New South Wales title, and even the Australian title, are attainable targets in 2019.

Coming Through
Shifting attentions back to the domestic scene in Ireland, there are a number of fighters with solid foundations that will be looking to move quickly into title fights this year.

Blanchardstown’s Francy Luzoho [1(1)-0] had a special debut win over Sam Jones and doesn’t intend to hang around. ‘The Butcher Boy’ will be hoping for sixes soon and doesn’t want to drop his level of opposition. A real character, he has his eyes set on the BUI Celtic title.

Up North there is Tony Nellins [4(0)-0-1] who fights in Scotland this month and finally looks set to build some momentum in his career. Another in line for a move up to six, he wants domestics soon.

Then there is Martin Wall [1(1)-1(1)] who suffered a shock loss last time out. The Crumlin puncher isn’t one to feel sorry for himself and, after he gets back on the horse, can be expected to feature in all-Irish brawls over the coming year.

Only 19, Sligo’s Aaron Gethins [1(0)-0] has huge potential but 2019 – and probably 2020 – will be focused purely on development and building a record.

In Canada, Limerick’s Lee Reeves [2(2)-0] is turning heads in recent months and could be in store for a big 2019.

There are more prospects, too, overseas, with Tyrone’s Paddy McGee [1(1)-0] in Boston and Cork’s Steven Power [1(0)-0] in Birmingham. Hopefully both can build some momentum in 2019.

Still There?
Balbriggan’s Crank Whitehouse [7(2)-1(1)] is back in training and a comeback could be on the cards after over a year out.

Further afield there is Athlone puncher Paddy Irwin [4(3)-0] who should feature on a card in Boston soon. Another Boston-based fighter, Donegal’s Michael McLaughlin Owen [12(5)-2(0)-1] also didn’t fight at all in 2018 and is hoped will be seen back in a ring this year.

Last but not least, Down Under, Tony Bates [12(9)-0-1] racked up two wins in 2018 following over three years out and will be back in the ring in March. A talented and powerful fighter, a bit of momentum could see the Clondalkin puncher go far and, like Danny Keating, he will be targeting the NSW belt.


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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