Dust Up at the Devenish – Opponent Analysis

A new promotional outfit make their entry onto the scene tomorrow night in Belfast.

Former pro Mark Ginley and Ginley Promotions run their first show – ‘Dust Up at the Devenish‘ – at the Devenish Complex on the Finaghy Road in West Belfast.

A seven-fight card, the show is filled with boxers managed by MTK and, in terms of the home side of the bill, it is one of the highest quality ‘small hall’ offerings in recent times.

A show drawing from all over the island, it features three Belfast boys, three Dubs, and a Derry man.

New Lodge featherweight Ciaran McVarnock [6(1)-0-1] will shake off the rust against Croatian Antonio Horvatic [10(5)-31(8)] in his first Belfast fight for two years. ‘Bunty’ has had less than a round’s worth of action in the last sixteen months, but he will still be faced by a solid journeyman opponent for this four rounder. The Balkan boxer isn’t too much of a spoiler and should provide McVarnock with a nice test. In the past Horvatic has fought and lost to the likes of Romeo Romaeo (TKO6), Lewis Pettitt (TKO7), Boy Jones (PTS4), Michael Roberts (PTS8), Mitchell Smith (TKO3), and James Tennyson (TKO1).

Another Belfast boxer making both a homecoming and a return from inactivity is Anto Upton [13(5)-1(0)]. The former English light welterweight champ has not fought since winning the belt last Summer and in this time he has switched trainers from Ricky Hatton to Barry Smith. His opponent for a six round contest is Latvian welter Zaurs Sadihovs [4(4)-14(4)]. Back in September 2015 the Baltic boxer was dropped and outpointed by Dublin debutant Bernard Roe over four before going six with Upton’s older brother Pauly. While he will have a size advantage, Saudihovs is a rather unambitious and negative foe, not throwing much and constantly looking to clinch. The fight is, understandably, more of a training exercise for Upton to shake off rust and adjust to his new corner team.

Steve Ormond [23(12)-3(1)] keeps busy on the card, and the Clondalkin lightweight should not have any problems with Nicaraguan light welter Norwin Galo [7(5)-7(4)]. Ormond is biding his time awaiting a big fight, and his six-round contest tomorrow is more an exercise in keeping sharp and going through the fight motions more than anything else. A step back from his redemptive win over Zoltan Szabo in December, hopefully there is something big in the pipeline for Ormond.

Another Clondalkin man, cruiserweight Ian Tims [12(3)-3(2)], is also in a keep-busy fight. Timsey takes on Ukrainian journeyman Florians Strupits [3(2)-41(16)-3] over six. The 35 year old is a regular on the British scene and normally used for prospects early on in their careers. With an Irish title fight in the pipeline for Tims, he is another who is merely ticking over on this bill in a safe fight. The bout is a step down from his last fight back in October, but it serves a purpose for a boxer in the twilight of their career.

There is a decent looking scrap at middleweight where Mac Man Alfredo Meli [12(3)-0-1] goes up against experienced Hungarian Laszlo Fazekas [30(18)-26(3)-1]. The 27 year old is a live foe, having upset undefeated prospect Zak Collins, and regularly taking a few rounds off big names. The Magyar has gone the distance with the likes of Paulie Malignaggi, John O’Donnell, Aarron Morgan, and David Avanesyan among others, and will definitely come to fight. Southpaw Meli is always in entertaining scraps, and this six rounder should be a fun fight and one which builds on his comeback win in December.

The career of Tyrone McCullagh [5(4)-0] continues to gather momentum, and the talented Derry super bantam takes on another strong opponent in Ghanaian Michael Barnor [14(10)-8(6)-2]. An awkward, come-forward puncher, the African southpaw comes to win, although he tends to get stopped against better opponents. It is a good fight for what is just ‘White Chocolate’s’ sixth professional contest, and it should test him and entertain the fans while it lasts.

Finally there is Sean Turner [9(6)-0] who steps up to eight rounds for a heavyweight humdinger with Kamil Sokolowski [2(0)-9(2)-2]. The Polish puncher is a very game opponent and looks to be the toughest of Turner’s career so far. The fight also afforded ‘Big Sexy’ a chance to measure up with a number of prospects, most notably his Irish title rival Con Sheehan who went the distance with the same opponent in a competitive fight back in November. There is always an aura around the heavyweights, and this match-up here looks like it could be the fight of the night.

All in all it is a very solid opening effort from Ginley Promotions. On paper there looks to be four very solid match-ups [McVarnock, McCullagh, Meli, and Turner], and three which seem to be more one-sided [Ormond, Tims, and Upton].

That said, each and every fight serves a specific purpose for each respective boxer considering where they are and what the plans are for their future.

Most importantly though, it’s good to have another player on the Irish scene, and Ginley is eager to build on this first show.

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