All Irish Fantasy Fights- matching fighters past with present- PART 1

(Photo by Donal Moloney)

By Joe O’Neill

All-Irish Fantasy Fights: PART 1

No one loves an All-Irish fight more than us, and this week on we have been asking you what domestic dust-ups you would like to see. With all this discussion, a middleweight match-up between the world title chasing duo of Spike O’Sullivan and Eamonn O’Kane has emerged as a real possibility with both parties stating their willingness to lock horns. Here, however, we take a step back from reality, and all the potential exciting domestic clashes, to trawl through the archives and pick our favourite fantasy fights between the stars of today and the legends of yesteryear.

Carl Frampton -v- Barry McGuigan

The IBF super bantamweight world champion and Ireland’s pound-for-pound number one, Carl Frampton, will soon be fighting on cards in America as he looks to become a worldwide star. Equally adept at fighting on both the front and the back-foot as well as probably being the hardest puncher in his division, ‘The Jackal’ is a supreme talent. This potential was spotted by Barry McGuigan way back in 2009 when he saw him win a silver medal at the EU Championships. Barry took the plunge by signing the Tiger’s Bay boxer up and the rest is history.

As we all know, McGuigan himself is true a legend of Irish sport. A distinguished amateur boxer, ‘The Clones Cyclone’ represented Ireland at the 1980 Moscow Olympics before turning pro and winning the European and British titles in 1983 and 1984 respectively. The highlight of the Monaghan man’s career came twenty years ago this weekend when he won the WBA featherweight title by defeating the legendary Panamanian, Eusebio Pedroza, in front of a 20,000-strong crowd at London’s Loftus Road stadium.

McGuigan has stated that he believes that Frampton is a better boxer than he ever was, but a clash between the two would be a titanic battle. ‘The Clones Cyclone’, a featherweight, would hold a size advantage over ‘The Jackal’ which would include an eight inch superiority in reach. A fantasy match-up between two of Ulster’s finest boxers would certainly be a fantastic clash of styles between the superb pressure fighter in McGuigan and the all-round excellence of Frampton.

Carl Frampton -v- Bernard Dunne

Another intriguing fantasy bout for Frampton would be against Dublin’s Bernard Dunne. The Neilstown boxer turned professional in the U.S. and spent time under the tutelage of Freddie Roach in Hollywood’s legendary Wildcard Gym. One of the driving forces behind the Irish boxing revival of the 2000s, ‘The Irish Rover’ won the European title in 2006, defeating England’s Esham Pickering. Dunne then won World honours in 2009 when he defeated Ricardo Cordoba of Panama for the WBA title in what was one of the greatest fights in Irish boxing history – and the ESPN Fight of the Year 2009.

Frampton would be the favourite in this fight and would certainly have the power to exploit Dunne’s one and only weakness, his chin. However, one should certainly not underestimate the boxing skills and power of the Neilstown man. Additionally, as shown in the Cordoba war where he was truly world class, Dunne had the ability to raise his game several levels for the big occasion and this version of Dunne would definitely give Frampton the fight of his life.

Gary O’Sullivan -v- John Duddy-Middleweight
Since teaming up with Murphy’s Boxing, ‘Spike’ has made a real name for himself Stateside – particularly in Boston where he has built a large fanbase. The hard-punching Leesider recently won the NABA title by stopping Melvin Betancourt, a dangerous knockout artist from the Dominican Republic, in the second round. This continental title win has given him a high ranking with the WBA and a world title shot could occur in the near future.

Spike’s meteoric rise echoes that of another one of Ireland’s most popular boxers, John Duddy. ‘The Derry Destroyer’ turned pro in New York back in 2003 and gathered a massive following in the Big Apple where he fought in Madison Square Garden nine times throughout his career. Always partial to a brawl, Duddy too won continental honours back in 2006 when he claimed the WBC Continental Americas belt. Now working as an actor, the Ulster man sadly never fought for world title or engaged in a domestic duel – but he remains a fondly remembered figure in Irish, and American, boxing circles.

A fight between the two would be an all-action affair with neither boxer knowing how to take a backwards step. While tending to get hit a little too easy, Duddy was famed for his cast-iron chin. On the flip-side, O’Sullivan has otherworldly power and seems to be getting even stronger. Throughout his career Duddy mixed it with a higher calibre of opponent however, with his new promotional backing, Spike has been fighting more frequently and against better quality opponents than earlier in his career. Truly a fifty-fifty fight, this fantasy match-up would be one for the ages.

Paddy Barnes -v- Hugh Russell

At just 28, Belfast’s Paddy Barnes has a solid claim on being Ireland’s greatest ever amateur boxer. With seven major international medals including two Olympic bronze medals, Barnes’s trophy case must look like Mr. T’s jewellery box. Already qualified for the 2016 Olympics, the outspoken Ulsterman will be looking to add to his already unprecedented medal haul before trying his hand at the pro game where he has promised to be the Golovkin of the flyweights.

At the 1980 games in Moscow, Hugh Russell ended Ireland’s 16 year wait for an Olympic medal when he won bronze in the flyweight class. This in a time before the High Performance Unit, the Belfast man also won Commonwealth bronze two years previously in Canada. ‘Little Red’ would go on to have a successful professional career as well, winning British titles at both bantamweight and flyweight before becoming a respected photographer.

A Belfast derby between the two Holy Family boxers would be a barnstormer that determines who is Ireland’s Lord of the Flys. The ferocious and relentless Barnes would be favourite but one could never rule out the determined and skillful southpaw Russell who would also hold a size advantage.

What fantasy All-Irish clashes would you like to see in Part 2?

(Photo by Donal Moloney)


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