Current Boxing Union of Ireland Rankings and situation of the titles (plus predictions)

2016 is about to come to a close, a year which saw two Irish title fights that have left us with three Irish champions.

Going into 2017 we are looking forward to, hopefully, a more active Irish scene which will in turn lead to more all-Irish fights and more Irish title bouts.

In addition to the Irish title, there is also the BUI Celtic Warrior title. Fought over eight rounds, it is intended to be a stepping stone belt to the Irish title for boxers, granting them eligibility, a tough fight, and the #1 spot in the Irish rankings. In addition, fighters born in Wales and Scotland can fight for the strap, although, should they win, they will not move into contention for the Irish title, obviously.

With this in mind, below are the current Boxing Union of Ireland rankings and our take on the situation of each title. Rankings are based on records alone.

*Boxers must have taken part in a scheduled eight rounder to be considered eligible for the Irish title.

Minnimumweight – 105lbs
There are currently no active Irish minnimumweight boxers

Light Flyweight – 108lbs
There are currently no active Irish light flyweight boxers

Flyweight – 112lbs
1 – Luke Wilton – Belfast – 16(7)-5(1)-1
2 – Paddy Barnes – Belfast – 1(0)-0

A clash between the pair does not seem likely. Double Olympic bronze medalist Barnes is currently not eligible and has stated his intentions to move up to World level next and to face a recent World title challenger

Super Flyweight – 115lbs
1 – Jamie Conlan – Belfast – 18(11)-0

Bantamweight – 118lbs
1 – Ryan Burnett – Belfast – 15(9)-0

Super Bantamweight – 122lbs
1 – TJ Doheny – Portlaoise – 16(12)-0
2 – Tyrone McCullagh – Derry – 5(4)-0
3 – Carl McDonald – Dublin – 1(0)-0

An Irish title fight at super bantam is extremely unlikely. Doheny is on the move down to bantamweight, McCullagh is more of a featherweight, and McDonald is ineligible.

Featherweight – 126lbs
1 – Carl Frampton – Belfast – 23(14)-0
2 – Marco McCullough – Belfast – 16(10)-3(2)
3 – Paul Quinn – Downpatrick – 6(3)-1(1)
4 – John Cooley – Derry – 1(0)-0

Another weight where a fight for a belt does not look to be on the horizon. Frampton is obviously world level, McCullough is chasing a rematch with Commonwealth champ Isaac Lowe, Quinn has made no indication that he will be returning to boxing, and Cooley is ineligible.

Super Featherweight – 130lbs
1 – James Tennyson – Belfast – 17(13)-2(2)
2 – Anthony Cacace – Belfast – 15(7)-0
3 – Jono Carroll – Dunshaughlin – 13(1)-0
4 – Declan Geraghty – Dublin – 14(4)-1(0)
5 – James Fryers – Belfast – 12(5)-1(0)
6 – John Joe Nevin – Mullingar – 8(4)-0
7 – Ciaran McVarnock – Belfast – 6(0)-0-1
8 – Eric Donovan – Athy – 2(1)-0
9 – Ben Mulligan – Fivemiletown – 0-12(1)

Possibly the most exciting weight in Ireland. An Irish title fight is in the works between Tennyson and Geraghty, which looks likely to take place in Belfast in late February/early March. Eric Donovan and Ciaran McVarnock are two with their eyes on the belt, and a BUI Celtic Warrior title fight between the pair would work well to give both eligibility and designate a mandatory to take on the winner of Tennyson-Geraghty.

Lightweight – 135lbs
1 – Stephen Ormond – Dublin – 23(12)-3(1)
2 – Jamie Kavanagh – Dublin – 20(10)-1(1)-1
3 – Paul Hyland Jr – Belfast – 13(4)-0
4 – Michael Devine – Luton/Wexford – 15(5)-5(2)-1
5 – Joe Fitzpatrick – Belfast – 6(4)-0
6 – Gearoid Clancy – Oughterard – 6(1)-4(0)
7 – Feargal McCrory – Coalisland – 3(1)-0

Hyland Jr and promoter Mark Dunlop are hungry to fight for the green belt on the MHD February 4th show at the Europa Hotel. The preferred opponent is Clancy, however the Galway boxer has been advised to get another six-round win under his belt. This will take place next Friday in Australia and, all going well, a title fight between the pair will be authorised. Devine, who won the BBBoC Southern Area belt last night, is also Irish title keen, but an agreement could not be reached with Hyland over the past few months. Chunky however is still intent on fighting for the belt in 2017. Another interesting match-up could be between rising stars McCrory and Fitzpatrick, and a Celtic Warrior title bout for the pair could make sense.

Light Welterweight – 140lbs
1 – Tyrone McKenna – Belfast – 12(4)-0-1 – BUI Celtic Warrior Champion
2 – Phil Sutcliffe Jr – Dublin – 12(7)-1(0)
3 – Anthony Upton – Belfast – 12(5)-1(0)
4 – Darragh Foley – Dublin – 10(7)-2(0)
5 – Ciaran Bates – Dublin – 5(4)-0
6 – Jake Hanney – Dublin – 5(4)-0
7 – Stephen Carroll – Dublin – 5(1)-0
8 – Sean Creagh – Dublin – 4(2)-1(1)
9 – Tony Nellins – Belfast – 3(0)-0

A fight between McKenna and Sutcliffe will hopefully take place on the next Belfast Boxnation show. Should neither be able to make the fight, their MGM stablemate Upton could perhaps stand in (or face the winner). Another possible bout to find a mandatory between the pair is Hanney v Carroll.

Welterweight – 147lbs
CHAMPION – Peter McDonagh – Connemara – 27(3)-28(2)-1
1 – John O’Donnell – Galway – 31(11)-2(1)
2 – Danny O’Connor – Framingham – 27(10)-3(1)
3 – Frankie Gavin – Birmingham – 23(14)-3(2)
4 – Matthew Wilton – Belfast -14(3)-0
5 – Paddy Murphy – Newry – 11(5)-2(1)-2
6 – Paddy Gallagher – Belfast – 10(6)-3(0)
7 – Michael McKinson – Belfast – 9(1)-0
8 – Noely Murphy – Macroom – 7(2)-0
9 – Gerard Whitehouse – Balbriggan – 5(1)-0
10 – Paddy Irwin – Athlone – 2(2)-0

A Galway/London derby between McDonagh and O’Donnell would be a brilliant fight, although O’Donnell seems to be targetting English champ Johnny Garton. In terms of a BUI Celtic Warrior fight, a clash between Wilton and Whitehouse is one which could take place later in the year.

Light Middleweight – 154lbs
CHAMPION – Pauly Upton – Belfast – 12(2)-0
1 – Dennis Hogan – Kilcullen – 25(7)-1(0)-1
2 – Michael McLaughlin Owen – Carndonagh – 12(5)-1(0)-1
3 – Sonny Upton – Belfast – 12(5)-2(1)
4 – Terry Maughan – Nottingham – 10(0)-6(6)-1
5 – John Hutchinson – Buncrana – 7(2)-2(0)-2
6 – Craig O’Brien – Dublin – 3(0)-0
7 – Gerard Healy – Belfast – 5(0)-4(1)-1
8 – Jay Byrne – Loughlinstown – 2(1)-0

Maughan and Hutchinson will fight for BUI Celtic Warrior belt in Nottingham in March with the winner becoming mandatory for Pauly Upton, who has already stopped Maughan. Upton looks likely to vacate the belt to move up through the ranks. With that in mind, and with Hogan chasing World honours, an Irish title fight between the winner of Maughan-Hutchinson and either McLaughlin or Sonny Upton would seem to make sense. Healy is especially Irish title hungry and, should he string a few wins together, could be put in the mix.

Middleweight – 160lbs
1 – Andy Lee – Limerick – 34(24)-3(2)-1
2 – Spike O’Sullivan – Cork – 23(15)-2(1)
3 – Alfredo Meli – Belfast – 11(3)-0-1
4 – Jason Quigley – Ballybofey – 11(9)-0
5 – Luke Keeler – Dublin – 11(5)-2(1)
6 – Conrad Cummings – Coalisland – 11(4)-1(0)-1
7 – Darren Cruise – Castlerea – 7(1)-5(0)
8 – Connor Coyle – Derry – 2(1)-0
9 – Joe Rea – Ballymena – 11(4)-32(14)-5

Lee, O’Sullivan, Quigley, and Rea are all unlikely to fight for the belt, while Coyle is a light middleweight. When he returns from his tour of duty with the Irish Army in Syria, Cruise is actually the most likely man to fight for the belt. Promotionally, bouts between Keeler, Cummings, and Meli all seem unlikely, whereas Cruise could face any of the trio. A fight with Keeler has already been authorised by the BUI, and seems the most possible.

Super Middleweight – 168lbs
CHAMPION – JJ McDonagh – Mullingar – 14(7)-3(1)
1 – Alan Donnellan – Galway – 9(2)-3(0)
2 – Chris Blaney – Navan – 4(2)-0
3 – Ciaran Mullen – Dublin – 1(0)-0-1

What will happen at this weight is a bit of an unknown. Blaney has previously stated that he would like to face McDonagh in 2017, but has since stated his intention to move down to middleweight. What might perhaps be the most logical move initially could be a BUI Celtic Warrior title fight between Donnellan and Blaney.

Light Heavyweight – 175lbs
1 – Seanie Monaghan – New York/Navan – 27(17)-0
2 – Paddy McDonagh – Mullingar – 10(0)-2(0)
3 – Steve Collins Jr – Dublin – 9(4)-0-1

A fight between former champion McDonagh and, when eligible, Collins, seems to be a logical move for later in the year.

Cruiserweight – 200lbs
1 – Ian Tims – Dublin – 12(3)-3(2) – BUI Celtic Warrior Champion
2 – Tommy McCarthy – Belfast – 9(5)-1(0)
3 – Luke Watkins – Swindon/Wexford – 9(5)-0
4 – David Maguire – Dublin – 5(2)-0
5 – Gary Sweeney – Ballinrobe – 3(3)-0
6 – Steven Ward – Belfast – 2(0)-0

A fight between Tims and Watkins has been authorised, with Watkins’s team already having booked a venue for Swindon on St Patrick’s Weekend. Should Tims elect not to go for the fight, Watkins may run into trouble finding another eligible opponent, with the only possibility, McCarthy, looking likely to go for the Commonwealth route.

Heavyweight – +200lbs
1 – Tyson Fury – Manchester – 25(18)-0
2 – Sean Turner – Dublin – 9(6)-0
3 – Niall Kennedy – Gorey – 7(4)-0
4 – Con Sheehan – Clonmel – 4(1)-0

With Kennedy taking the New England route, a fight between Sheehan and Turner is the one which seems to be on the horizon – once Big Sexy gains title eligibility.

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