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3 Fighters Needed – who will step in for Ireland’s Last Man Standing?

TV has been confirmed and Irish professional boxing will return to terrestrial channels on Saturday March 3rd for Ireland’s Last Man Standing.

However, for TG4 to screen the Prizefighter-style single-elimination eight-man tournament it needs just that – eight men.

Following the announcement of eight boxers for the middleweight tournament at the National Stadium, three fighters subsequently withdrew. Padraig McCrory, Thomas Finnegan, and Henry Coyle all made it known that they will not be competing for the minimum €25,000 top prize and leaving Chris Blaney, Alfredo Meli, Bernard Roe, Roy Sheahan, and Sean McGlinchey as the five remaining confirmed fighters.

New names are needed, and soon, and Irish-Boxing.com below looks at some of the main contenders for a spot in the big-money tournament.

Have stated their desire to enter:

Darren Cruise
The two-time Irish title challenger is promoted by Assassin, co-promoters of the event, and was disgusted not to be named in the initial eight. Cruise remains eager to enter a tournament that provides the winner with the mandatory slot for the Irish title, the Connacht fighter’s biggest goal in boxing. Familiar with the concept having been involved in Prizefighter back in 2012 and currently enjoying a new lease of life under coach Eddie Hyland, Cruise seems a no-brainer to fill one of the three slots.

Ger Healy
‘Boom Boom’ is another desperate to enter the tournament. The 34-year-old wants big fights and had signed to face McGlinchey back in October but saw this Celtic Nations title clash fall through. A great talker looking to roll the dice, he certainly would be an acceptable stand-in.

John McCallum
Now based in Dublin, the Scot is the third fighter to state their willingness to step in. A talented amateur with some good wins under his belt, and his only loss having been unfortunate, McCallum is certainly good enough to be part of the eight. However, should there be a number of fighters looking to step in, the promoters and fans alike may prefer to see an Irish name added.


Vladimir Belujsky
The Mitchelstown fighter is in action in Mexico on Thursday and has said previously that he will not be entering, with the Irish super middle and Slovakian middleweight titles being his primary target. However, if numbers are needed, the Assassin-promoted fighter may be called upon to help round off the line-up.

JJ McDonagh
Also promoted by Assassin and also fighting in Mexico this week, the Irish super middleweight could be involved in a similar scenario to Belujsky – although considering their respective career stages, Belujsky seems the more likely of the two to be in a three-round tournament.

John Hutchinson
Quite unlikely as Hutchinson is currently based in South East Asia and has numerous fights lined up. However, the Buncrana Banger has expressed an interest in the tournament since its inception and perhaps could be tempted – especially if old rival Healy is given the nod.

Paddy Irwin
The Boston-based fighter is desperate to fight at home and was one of the initial applicants. Would be quite small in relation to the other entrants and is not a major name in Irish boxing due to his location, however the Midlander brings an entertaining all-action style that would suit the format.

JP Delaney
The Emerald man won the Irish Elite Senior title at light heavyweight for 2016 and was one of the initial applicants. Finally over persistent injury problems, Delaney is keen to turn pro. May he return on Ireland’s Last Man Standing – a move that could potentially set up a rematch with Elite Senior final opponent Blaney

Sonny Upton
The middle boxing brother has been suggested as a potential entrant, however he himelf has stated that he is after the BUI Celtic and Irish titles at light middleweight, looking to reclaim the throne that was stripped off his elder brother Pauly to facilitate the Jay Byrne v Craig O’Brien title fight which acts as chief support on March 3rd.

Ryan Greene
The Ulster fighter returned last year for a fight with Lee Griffiths to banish the demons from his own sour Prizefighter appearance back in 2012 where he was stopped by eventual champ Eamonn O’Kane. After his win over Griffiths Greene hinted that he may not be done just yet and perhaps a return to the format could be on the cards.

Craig McCarthy
‘Built2Last’ headlines at the WIT Arena just two weeks prior so an appearance in Dublin seems extremely unlikely. However, he and his team had previously expressed strong desires to enter, and this may remain the case. A former strong amateur with good size and a decent dig, he certainly would be well-suited.

Peter McDonagh
The Galway light middleweight, a three-weight Irish champion, has promised big news soon. While he is currently suspended from fighting in Britain, there is theoretically nothing blocking the BUI-licenced boxer from appearing on Irish cards. May he be looking to move into frame for an Irish title at a record-equalling fourth weight? Surely not? No?

Definitely Not

There are a number of Irish middleweights that can be instantaneously ruled out. Conrad Cummings and Luke Keeler face each other on April 21st while Spike O’Sullivan and Andy Lee are chasing world-level bouts as will Jason Quigley when he returns to the ring. McCrory, Finnegan, and Henry Coyle are all already out, and Connor Coyle has big fights lined up in Florida. Then there are the likes of Jordan Latimer and Graham McCormack O’Shea, for whom it is too early.


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