A Perfect Card for Imperfect Circumstances – What fights could be on Belfast Behind-Closed-Doors Bill?

News of an all Irish fight card set for Belfast and July broke at the weekend.

Fighter turned fight boss Jamie Conlan told the Irish News a behind-closed-doors bill is in the works for the summer.

A host of hoops still remain to be jumped through before the card can be officially confirmed, but work is underway to make a five-fight card.

If the fight night does go ahead all 10 fighters on the bill will be Irish.

Conlan has indicated that Paddy Gallagher, Seanie Duffy, Lewis Crocker, and Padraig McCrory are in line for appearances – while numerous fighters will surely be on standby considering uncertain times we are currently going through.

Who they fight remains to be seen. MTK have never had an issue pitting their own fighters against each other, but Irish-Boxing.com believes this time around fighters from other promotional banners have been approached to man the away corner.

While the BBBoC have limited any potential fights to an eight-round limit, the current rumour mill suggests a genuinely strong bout to top the bill has been made, but details are being held back.

It has also been suggested the likes of Victor Rabei, Martin Quinn, Ray Moylette among others have either been approached or considered for the card.

Regardless with the all-Irish nature we could be in for an exciting return to Irish-boxing.

We decided to take a look at the options and possibilities in terms of opponents for each of the four fighters namechecked by Conlan.

Paddy Gallagher
‘The Pat Man’ hasn’t been seen in the ring since his controversial British and Commonwealth welterweight title defeat to Chris Jenkins at the Féile last August.

After such a period out the Belfast fighter may be open to a routine return, but having won the BBBofC Celtic title at welterweight and BUI Celtic title at light middleweight, Gallagher is qualified to fight higher up the scale.

It could be he would be keen on another high profile and competitive scrap and the door could be open to Ireland’s light middleweight’s and welterweights.

Best Match
The immediate perfect bout which springs to mind is Rohan Daté, with Gallagher having shared some ferocious spars with the Waterford KO artist. However, living in Dubai rules the Déise man out.

Therefore, we would suggest Irish light middleweight champion Craig O’Brien who had been angling for a fight with Greg Vendetti prior to Lockdown. Gallagher has shown his willingness to fight at light middle while O’Brien has stated his intention to move to welter. 150lbs catchweight anyone?

Maybe
Limerick’s Lee Reeves works closely with MTK and is a viable option. The stylist may also be tempted by the chance to bounce back from a first career defeat with a career changing scalp.

At light middle there are plenty of inexperienced but game fighters from the small hall scene that may fancy a pop at the Pat Man. These include Dominic Donegan, Eddie Treacy, and Cillian Reardon.

Unlikely
Gallagher has already traded leather with Jay Byrne at light middleweight which may rule out the Dubliner.

Golden Boy starlet Aaron McKenna is home in Monaghan, but the risk reward balance may not be right for the young prospect.

Dylan Moran is another who can be taken off the list, as the Waterford welter is readying himself for a big IBF ranking title fight in Germany once boxing returns.

John Joyce is also an option, but having suffered defeat to Noely Murphy last time out and having not fought in over a year may want a warm before any big action.

Then there is the likes of Sligo youngsters Aaron Gethins and James Lynch, not to mention Dubliner Tony McGlynn but all would appear to be far too early on in their careers to be considered.

Padraig McCrory
The pool isn’t as big for McCrory. Super middles based in Ireland are few and far between. Not to mention the ticket seller is at a very important stage of his career. Having just claimed the BUI Celtic title he will be looking for progressive fights.

However, this will be his first clash under new coach Dee Walsh and he may want a risk free relationship building bout.

Best Match
Vladimir Belujsy versus McCrory is just mouthwatering. It would be two one-punch power punchers pitted against each other. Such is the Cork fighter’s level of experience it would also allow for the BUI Celtic title ‘The Hammer’ won via dramatic stoppage victory over Steve Collins to be on the line.

Maybe
Fellow MTK super middle Taylor McGoldrick had previously agreed to fight the popular Belfast fighter. Indeed, but for a surprise stoppage defeat to Latvian journeyman Gennadi Stserbin in June of last year the rivals would have fought on the Feile card. There is beef and willingness from both sides, but it has to be noted McGoldrick may need a win before he gets that chance.

Interestingly enough, popular journeyman Marty Kayes claims he has agreed to a fight. The Downpatrick-based Englishman doesn’t say as to where his first fight in two years may take place, but with travel restrictions in place you’d have to wonder.

Another maybe wildcard is Boxing Ireland’s Kevin Cronin. The Kerry light heavyweight is another teasing of news on the horizon and could be an option at a catchweight, while a bout with Belfast-Angolan Julio Cesar has been suggested for some time now.

Unlikely
Both Craig McCarthy and Chris Blaney have dropped down to middleweight and look set to fight for the middleweight Irish title once boxing resumes.

It would prove a case of too soon for the Pascal Collins trained one fight novice Rhys Moran and former foe Steve Collins has just retired.

Lewis Crocker
This was the year Crocker was to show why people like Carl Frampton have tipped him for the top. Having got to 11 wins with relative ease a fighter you’d forget was signed to Frank Warren was meant to get busy in step up fights.

The current pandemic has slowed things down, but the 23-year-old will get his first taste of domestic action when he returns.

Best Match
‘The Croc’ has a bit of history with Keane McMahon. The Dubliner has moved up to light middle, but a clash with the recent BUI Celtic title challenger is still plausible.

The fact McMahon has gone as far as to say he would outbox the big punching Belfast fighter would add to the build up – and it could be a competitive clash.

For the maybes and unlikely you can just re-read the Paddy Gallagher section!

Sean Duffy
With just three wins to his name Duffy would be well within his rights to expect a journeyman opponent next time out. The current situation doesn’t seem to allow that and, as a result, the Keady fighter will upgrade to all Irish action.

Best Match
Duffy defeated Stevie McKenna in the Ulster semis for 2018 in what turned out to be the Monaghan youngster’s final amateur fight. With McKenna back on the island, an early-career clash with a bit of spice between the two novices could be a perfect fight for such a card.

Maybe
Ray Moylette is possibly the biggest lightweight name feasible and would certainly attract attention. Having fought on TG4 and having a good relationship with Newstalk’s Off The Ball, the Mayo man adds casual value. Then the fact he has fought in America may appeal in terms of any ESPN+ broadcast.

Out since December 2018, and having been willing to return against Larry Fryers in March, Moylette may be open to a such a fight just to get himself back into the swing of things. It would be a gargantuan step up for Duffy, but the 29-year-old is eager to progress, has always been confident in his ability, and similarly may look at Moylette’s long absence.

Boxing Ireland’s Stephen Webb took a risk by stepping up to the plate against Irish title challenger Joe Fitzpatrick in just his third fight. It didn’t pay off, but he has since said he will continue in that vain. He could be tempted by the chance to put that defeat behind him with a high profile, low-risk, high-reward clash.

Then there are other fearless fighters such as Francy Luzoho and Martin Quinn who have always been open to facing any other Irishmen.

Unlikely
It’s quite possible Victor Rabei was offered this fight, but with an American hosted ranking title fight on the horizon it’s not an option for him, while Paul Hyland Jr still hopes to fight Terry Flanagan once bigger shows come back.

Jonny Stapleton

Irish-boxing.com contributor for 15 years and editor for the past decade. Have been covering boxing for over 16 years and writing about sport for a living for 19 years. Former Assistant Sports editor for the Gazette News Paper Group and former Tallaght Voice Sports Editor. Have had work published in publications around the world when working as a freelance journalist. Also co-founder of Junior Sports Media and Leinster Rugby PRO of the Year winner. email: editoririshboxing@gmail.com