Matchroom boss Eddie Hearn is planning to assemble an all-star Irish card for when he returns to Belfast in the new year for a Ryan Burnett [15(9)-0] world title homecoming.
The fight night itself has yet to be confirmed, and would not take place until April at the earliest due to lack of availability at the Odyssey Arena. An opponent has not been secured, although Hearn has previously revealed to be in talks with “a couple” of the bantamweight champions, with WBO titlist Marlon Tapales believed to be one of them.
Regardless of opponent, the English promoter acknowledges that Burnett would have difficulty selling the venue out by himself, and is therefore planning to pack the undercard with Irish talent.
When asked about an Irish-heavy undercard, Hearn said “of course, it has to be, because Ryan’s not boxed in Belfast for… ever, I don’t know.”
Veteran Belfast manager Pat Magee shares a good relationship with Matchroom, and his two fighters are being eyed up – although Hearn was shocked that Tommy McCarthy, who dominated Jon Lewis Dickinson on a Matchroom card, recently lost.
“I was really surprised Tommy McCarthy lost,” Hearn admitted. “Really surprised. He’s a good fighter and Matty Askin is probably past his best. I don’t know what happened there.”
“Then you’ve got Anthony Cacace, he’s in line for a British title fight soon.”
Hearn would also draw from Dublin for the card, and the Celtic Warriors Gym, and described how “Luke Keeler, he’s another one. I really fancied him to beat Tom Doran, and that was a turning point in his career. He should have won that fight and gone on, but he got involved in a great fight. But he’s cracking on and I think he’ll get another shot at something. I rate Luke Keeler, I think he’s a good fighter. ”
“And you’ve got Spike O’Sullivan, who’s absolutely nuts. And the English fans love Spike as well. The funniest thing was him turning up to call out Anthony Ogogo and Ogogo getting beaten – he couldn’t believe his luck!”
Perhaps most intriguingly though, Hearn outlined how two of Belfast’s former amateur super stars are possibilities.
“You’ve got Paddy Barnes, you’ve got Michael Conlan, you’ve got all these kids,” he continued.
“It wouldn’t be difficult to speak to Top Rank and say ‘do you want to put Michael Conlan on in Belfast,’ or speak to Macklin and put Paddy Barnes on.”