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All-Irish fights for 2017 – Part 1

2016 is drawing to a close and we are looking forward to the next 12 months with great excitement.

The past year has seen a handful of all-Irish clashes, namely JJ McDonagh v Darren Cruise, Pauly Upton v Terry Maughan, Tyrone McKenna v Sean Creagh, and Stephen Carroll v Jamesy Gorman. Hopefully there are even more domestic duels in the new year and below we have outlined some potential clashes and discuss their likelihoods.

Split into two parts, today we look at the lighter weights before the second installment later in the week

Flyweight – 112lbs
Paddy Barnes v Luke Wilton
A potential Belfast battle has been mooted, but Barnes has expressed his desire to be fast-tracked and has intentions of facing a recent world title challenger in his next fight.

Bantamweight – 118lbs
Ryan Burnett v TJ Doheny
Both hope to fight for 118lbs world honours in 2017, with Burnett believed to be closing in on a Belfast bout with WBO champion Marlon Tapales. Should Burnett win, an all-Irish world title fight, the first ever, against the Portlaoise boxer is certainly a possibility.

Super Featherweight – 130lbs
James Tennyson v Declan Geraghty
A bout for the Irish title has been agreed, and is expected to take place in Belfast in the Spring on a Frank Warren-promoted show.

Eric Donovan v Allan Phelan
Lilywhite Lightning and his team have expressed an interest in a bout, coming in as the away fighter, against any of the MHD Promotions stable (Tennyson, James Fryers, Paul Hyland Jr, Joe Fitzpatrick, Ronnie Clark) but have seen their advances dismissed. Another match-up mooted was against Belfast’s Ciaran McVarnock, but there has been a lack of comment from ‘Bunty.’ One potential fight, which seems to make sense, would be an all-Kildare clash with Allan Phelan. An ideal scenario would be a BUI Celtic title fight over eight rounds, in Kildare, with the winner taking on the winner of Tennyson-Geraghty for the Irish belt.

Jono Carroll v Declan Geraghty
A rematch everyone wants to see, whether it happens in 2017 is another story. The pair’s shared managerial situation with MGM makes the fight easy to make, however with Geraghty having Irish title plans and there being a desire to let the bout build into a headliner, it could be 2018 before we see a rematch of the 2014 BUI Fight of the Year. If this is the case, it is a calculated risk, as a loss for Geraghty to Tennyson (or any subsequent opponents) could derail or delay a Carroll clash. The same can also be said of Dunshaughlin’s Carroll, who hopes to step up his level of opposition in the new year.

Lightweight – 135lbs
Stephen Ormond v Jamie Kavanagh
A Dublin derby was spoken of in 2015 but has been put on the back-burner as Kavanagh underwent career-saving eye surgery and Ormond targeted, unsuccessfully, the IBF title. Kavanagh is expected to return in the new year and, should he string a few wins together, a fight with the rebuilding Ormond in late 2017 could be a runner.

Paul Hyland Jr v Michael Devine
The crowd-pleasing fight-anyone Hylo had hoped to face Galway’s Gearoid Clancy for the Irish title on February 4th, only to see the BUI refuse to sanction the bout for the belt. With the pair going their separate ways, a previously spoke of clash between Hyland and Luton-Wexford scrapper Michael Devine may re-emerge as an option. MHD Promotions had offered the fight to Devine earlier this year, but negotiations would break down regarding location, with Devine unwilling to face Hyland in Belfast and preferring a neutral location such as Dublin. With MHD having good relations with both FS Promotions and Red Corner Promotions, a Hyland v Devine Irish title fight in Dublin in 2017 is a possibility.

Joe Fitzpatrick v Feargal McCrory
Both youngsters are Irish title-keen, but both are currently ineligible. An eight-round BUI Celtic title fight would garner both eligibility as well as giving both a step-up. The winner would be able to build on the victory and move up in level, while the loser’s career would be better for the experience.

Light Welterweight – 140lbs
Tyrone McKenna v Phil Sutcliffe
An Irish title fight that seems to make so much sense. McKenna defeated Sean Creagh to win the BUI Celtic belt, while Sutcliffe is known to be desperate to win the Irish belt. Both are managed by MGM so there seems to be nothing blocking the bout, and a prominent placing on the next Belfast Boxnation/BT show would be perfect.

Phil Sutcliffe v Jake Hanney
Tyrone McKenna v Darragh Foley
Two fights also mooted. Definite potential for good match-ups but logistics would suggest that McKenna v Sutcliffe is the more likelier bout. The MGM managed Anto Upton could also slot in anywhere.

Stephen Carroll v Sean Creagh/Jake Hanney
Tallaght’s Creagh is currently recovering from a torn bicep sustained against McKenna but, when he returns, he intends to start hunting the Irish title again. Another crack at the BUI Celtic belt against long-time friendly rival Carroll at the end of the year, assuming it has been vacated, is a possibility. Hanney is another name in the mix, and potentially could face Carroll whilst Creagh is undergoing recovery, although negotiations between the East Wall talent and Ballyfermot’s Shortty recently broke down.

What all-Irish fights would you add to the weight categories above?

Watch out for part two, which will cover welterweight all the way up to heavyweight, in the coming days.

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