2017 saw a staggering 37 Irish fresh faces enter the pro ranks and punch for pay for the first time – and while the number of fight participants increased so did the number of people willing to put bouts on.
The likes of Ginley Promotions, Boxing Ireland, Tony Davitt, Kieran Farrell, and SK Promotions all either entered or returned the fray, while MHD and Red Corner continued their good work alongside while Matchroom and Frank Warren also flexed their significant muscle on these shores.
Between them seven different venues shared 18 pro shows and 170 fights in Ireland in 2017 and if you consider Dubliner Paul Keegan ran the biggest show outside of Pacquiao-Horn in Australia last year, things were very bright on the Irish promotional front.
Those numbers may suggest a crowded market, but that hasn’t stopped Neil Power and Ring Kings entering the fray and joining the promotional possé for 2018.
Power is one of six promoters to have already confirmed shows for the new year and the new man to step up to the pressurized plate believes he has a unique selling point.
The 170 fights promoted in Ireland last year played out between only two cities, Dublin and Belfast and Power believes there is a thirst outside the capital of Ireland and the capital of Irish boxing – and it’s one he plans to quench.
The fresh to the game promoter will run his first show in his home county, Waterford, on Saturday February 17th at the WIT Arena, and claims the emergence of Craig McCarthy, Rohan Date, and Barry Barnes means now is the perfect time to bring boxing back to the Déise faithful.
“For me it’s a no brainer to go to Waterford and have a show,” he explained to Irish-Boxing.com.
“At this time we have four talented charismatic professionals in the city starting out their careers so the buzz is really around. The people of Waterford love to back their own which has been evident from the support not only the fighters receive but the reception I have been given since announcing the show,” he continued before revealing that the first card in Waterford since the 1940s will not be a one show wonder.
“My aim is to make this show a success and then I’ll see what’s the best way to move forward regarding more shows.”
While it’s unsure as to whether Waterford will become a regular haunt Power is adamant February 17th will be a memorable night and states he will continue to try and push his fellow countymen regardless of where they fight.
“I’m looking to really build all the Waterford fighters. The plan is to raise their profile throughout the promotion.We have some great video packages coming out over the next few weeks which I am really excited about.”
“In the ring they’re taking steps forward too. We have Craig and Rohan in 6 rounds fights for the first time and obviously Barry is getting to make his debut after a set back last year- through no fault of his own I might add.”
“Going forward I’d be lying if it wasn’t in the back of mind to get some title fights maybe at the end of the year back in Waterford. The reaction has been terrific so far and very positive especially from people in the City and local media which has really come on board and helped give us exposure.”
There is a real Waterford feel to the show, but you don’t have to be from the Munster county to have an interest. Indeed, some top emerging talent from around the country will trade leather at the WIT arena.
“We have some great talent on the bill in my opinion. Apart from the Waterford lads it’s great to have the likes of Eric Donovan on the bill, I really think Michael Kalilec has the ability to be a real force at light-heavy going forward, John Joyce is stepping up to six rounds and will bring action, you have a great character in Graham McCormack looking to push on from his entertaining debut and we are not finished there.”
“More fighters will be added to the bill but until contracts are signed we will hold of mentioning names,” Power added before revealing plans to ensure an event feel to the fight night.
“I suppose my mantra with Ring Kings is to bring an event to the city. We have a fabulous state of the art location with the WIT Arena which helps with the house production and visuals on the night, which are important to me. I think it helps set the atmosphere.Boxing is a fantastic centrepiece but it does no harm to add some window dressing in my opinion.”
Promoters with interesting back stories have become part of the game of late. Former fighter Mark Ginley decided to put his fight knowledge into another side of the game, Keegan of DDP Sports found himself promoting a TV card after a journey that saw him start out as a friend of bill topper Dennis Hogan, Boxing Ireland’s Len Gunning and Stephen Sharpe evolved from fans and writers to showrunners and so on.
Power’s story is also intriguing, he claims to be a boxing ‘anorak’ turned promoter and has also been a life-long friend of bill topper Craig McCarthy.
Explain how he got into the promoting he outlined how “I’ve been wanting to get involved in the sport for a while.”
“Anyone that would know me personally would tell you I’m a bit of an anorak when it comes to boxing,so the thought of bringing a show to my home town really interested me.”
“Craig and I have been friends since we were kids and I’ve followed him through his amateur career. I was always pestering him to turn professional as I felt he had a lot more to give the sport. I was over the moon when he finally made his decision to give it a go – and although I wouldn’t have been as close to Barry and Rohan I always supported them through their careers as well.”
Tickets for February 17th are available from the boxers involved and cost €40 (bleachers) or €55 (ringside). Tickets can also be bought online HERE.