5 Big Irish Boxing Predictions for 2018


Never mind in the ring, outside the ring boxing can be one of the most unpredictable sports to cover or predict.

Peaks and troughs, unlikely alliances, break-out stars – nothing is certain in boxing.

Even so, Irish-Boxing.com have taken a look into our crystal ball to see what may lie ahead in 2018.

Rather than go for the seemingly obvious – Katie Taylor homecoming, Carl Frampton in Windsor – we have tried to look a bit deeper, analysing recent talk and trends to make some weighty predictions.

They may not all come true, but here are five things we think may be on the horizon for Irish boxing over the next twelve months.

Brian Peters Promotions return
The Meath man has spent the past year or so managing Katie Taylor, with the Wicklow lightweight racing to a world title in just seven fights. Taylor now seems, finally, set for an Irish homecoming at the 3Arena in April. Much like Mark Dunlop for the Belfast Ryan Burnett shows, Brian Peters and his associate Tomas Rohan are expected to be Matchroom’s ‘boots on the ground’ in Dublin. However, composition of a Sky undercard may not be where Peters stops, and there was perhaps a slight hint that BPP could return to the Irish scene in the aftermath of Taylor’s homecoming – with Bernard Dunne’s former promoter suggesting future fights for the National Stadium.

MTK-managed boxers fight in Dublin
It was reported last year that boxers managed by Mack The Knife Global were unable to fight on Boxing Union of Ireland-sanctioned shows. However, throughout 2017, a number of MTK boxers remained licensed by the BUI and fought for BUI Celtic and Irish titles on British Boxing Board of Control shows in Belfast. Chatter in recent months from well-established players in the game such as Eddie Hearn and Brian Peters has now begun to outright propose fights involving MTK boxers in Dublin. There seems to be a shift occurring and we may well see fighters from the massive MTK stable appear on both small hall and arena shows in Dublin this year.

Early All-Irish fights trend continues
2017 saw Regan Buckley and Carl McDonald capture the imagination with the build-up to their chief support on Celtic Clash 3, while Stephen McAfee and Colin O’Donovan had one of the Fights of the Year on Celtic Clash 4. These four boxers had previously had seven fights – COMBINED. With the Irish fight scene becoming saturated with new pros, building records is becoming less and less of an issue. Indeed, early career fights are now becoming a way for fighters to stand out from an increasingly packed crowd. Expect more of these fights in 2018, especially on the Dublin scene.

A New Star is born
There has not been a break-out young amateur star since Brendan Irvine in 2015, however an insanely talented batch of talent looks set to break through this year. James McGivern turns 20 this week and is a real medal hope for the Commonwealth Games, as is Aidan Walsh. While there is a lack of major international tournaments for a Brendan Irvine European Games-style coming out party this year, the second Elite Senior Championships of 2018 in November look like they could be a perfect storm in terms of talent. These are technically next year’s Championships, and take place early to facilitate a busy 2019 with Olympic qualification on the line. Expect the recent underage medalists – Gabriel Dossen, Paddy Donovan, Eamer Coughlan, Michael Nevin – to stake their claim here, and even in the 2018 Championships in February, and there could be a star or two born.

Increasing U.S. East Coast presence
After starting his career on the U.S. West Coast, Jason Quigley has stated that he will now focus on building on the heavily Irish-populated East Coast. Expect Golden Boy to use Quigley to expand into this area, especially Boston, along with fellow Irish middleweight Spike O’Sullivan and – considering the Murphys Boxing link – even Niall Kennedy. Mick Conlan, of course, returns to The Theater at Madison Square Garden on St Patrick’s Day, and the Belfast featherweight is another who is due a trip to Boston. The intriguing Matchroom USA venture also looks likely to feature Irish fighters, with Katie Taylor’s long-term future being in America, while Ryan Burnett is another that could be introduced to the U.S. market considering the packed Belfast schedule.

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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