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9 Potential Irish Title Fights for 2016

Peter McDonagh and MGM perhaps gave the Irish title a shot in the arm last weekend, and it got us at irish-boxing.com thinking about what Irish title clashes we would like to see next year.

We tried to be as realistic as possible here (so no Carl Frampton v TJ Doheny we’re afraid), and came up with nine fights at nine weights that should be able to be made if all parties are in agreement.

It would be a wonderful sight to see the Irish belt fought for reguarly once again, and we really hope that a few of these tasty sounding clashes can be made.

Declan Geraghty v James Fryers
Super Featherweight

A bout that is already in the works. MGM wanted Fryers [10(3)-0] to face Geraghty on the recent ‘Second Coming’ show but the Belfast man’s manager, Mark Dunlop, wanted the fight to be for the Irish Title. Once Geraghty [10(2)-1(0)] fights an eight rounder and becomes eligible, there are no roadblocks to making this clash in 2016.

A battle of the skillful slicksters, it would be a high-quality match-up and a perfect headliner for one of MGM’s Dublin shows next year. Likelihood – 9/10

Paul Hyland Jr v Ciaran Bates

This would be a war. Fan-friendly Belfast man Hyland [8(2)-0] and Dublin knock-out artist Bates [5(4)-0] are used to thrilling fans on Dunlop and Davitt shows respectively, and if they were to meet next year it would be an instant small-hall classic. Hyland has previously spoken of his desire for an Irish title, while Bates has always stated his willingness to fight any of the many Irishman in the division.

Bates would need to quickly make the step up to eight rounders to make this potential Fight of the Year a possibility. Likelihood – 6/10

Tyrone McKenna v Paddy Gallagher

Both Belfast men have recently called out Matt Wilton, but with Wilton moving down in weight, a clash between friends McKenna and Gallagher should be considered. McKenna [8(2)-0] a rangy southpaw and Gallagher [8(4)-2(0)] an aggressive body puncher, the West Belfast derby would be a fascinating clash of styles.

If the pair are willing to put aside their friendship for ten rounds this intriguing match-up can be made easily enough. Likelihood – 7/10

Pauly Upton v Terry Maughan
Light Middleweight

With his brothers Sonny (light-middle) and Anto (light-welter) closing in on English titles, Pauly is likely to elect to take a different route and go for the Irish belt. A great opponent would be the Nottingham-born Terry Maughan [10(0)-5(5)-1] who would love another crack at the belt following a stoppage defeat to Dee Walsh for the title last year.

Upton [10(1)-0] is soon to fight an eight rounder and become eligble, and this raises the possibility of a title fight which would be the perfect headline attraction to any Upton Belfast homecoming next year. Likelihood – 8/10

Luke Keeler v Alfredo Meli/Conrad Cummings

A confusing one here. Cummings and Meli meet next Friday in Belfast for the BBBoC Celtic title, with the winner putting themselves on the road to a British title. Additionally, Matchroom’s Keeler looks likely to face Cummings, if the Tyrone boxer beats Meli, on the massive Frampton-Quigg undercard next February. However, if this can not be made, an Irish title fight between Keeler and the loser of Meli and Cummings is another possibility for the hard-hitting Dublin man.

All speculation at the moment, the situation will become a lot clearer next Friday at the Waterfront Hall. Likelihood – 4/10

JJ McDonagh v Darren Cruise
Super Middleweight

The pair met in the quarter finals of the All-Irish Middleweight Prizefighter in Belfast back in 2012, with Mullingar’s McDonagh [12(6)-3(1)] emerging victorious. Roscommon man Cruise [6(0)-4(0)] has called for a rematch with the southpaw who is the current Irish champ, and there seems to be little standing in the way.

With rematch and revenge on the agenda, this is another perfect small-hall headliner for the new year. Likelihood – 8/10.

Paddy McDonagh v Joe Hillerby
Light Heavyweight

McDonagh [10(0)-2(0)] won the Irish belt back in 2012 over Mayo’s John Waldron and a defence against Belfast’s Hillerby [11(2)-3(2)], who also has a recent win over Waldron, seems a logical move. Hillerby has stated his desire to keep active, and has a long history of facing Irish fighters having tussled with Waldron, Dee Taggart, Tommy Tolan, Lee Murtagh, and Robbie Long, while McDonagh also has Irish previous having faced Waldron and Ciaran Healy.

Both would jump at the fight, whether there is the requisite backing is the major stumbling block. Likelihood 5/10

Ian Tims v Luke Watkins

Timsey is the last man to hold the Irish belt and defeated Michael Sweeney for a second time last weekend. Now only interested in big fights, a clash with Swindon-born Watkins [5(3)-0] – who has stated his desire to fight for the strap – fits the bill. Two big, strong, hardmen, it would be a grizzly throwback affair.

With regular shows in Swindon, and with Tims [11(3)-3(2)] likely to be on further MGM shows, there is opportunity for this fight to be made. Likelihood – 6/10.

Sean Turner v Niall Kennedy

A rematch of the 2013 Senior Final is another potential future MGM Dublin headliner. While Turner [7(5)-0] emerged victorious two years ago, Kennedy [3(1)-0] would be confident of exacting revenge after developing a pro style with Paschal Collins at Celtic Warriors Gym. A clash of styles with the explosive power of Turner challenging the cultured boxing brain of Kennedy, it certainly is an intriguing match-up for the two fledgling pros.

For this fight to be made, both need to move up in rounds and, if this happens next year, it could result in a real Christmas cracker. Likelihood – 6/10.

What Irish title fights do you want to see next year?

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