Former UFC star in the mix to face Wexford heavyweight Niall Kennedy


Niall Kennedy [11(7)-0] returns to the ring on Saturday June 23d in America and the Wexford heavyweight could be facing a massive name in the world of combat sports.

Kennedy tops a Murphys Boxing bill at the Bank of New Hampshire Pavilion in Gilford and a former UFC star is being lined up as his opponent.

While nothing has been confirmed or signed, Irish-Boxing.com can reveal that Brazilian Fabio Maldonado [25(24)-0] is one of three potential opponents in the mix for a fight which Murphys hope will be for the WBA-NABA title and an accompanying Top 15 ranking with the body.

Considering his profile, the familiar name of Maldonado is the preferred option over two unnamed, unbeaten American foes.

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The 38-year-old is better known for his exploits in the octagon but brings an impressive-looking record to the ring having stopped all of his opponents [one fight saw the towel thrown in by his opponent’s team and the fight was ruled a DQ on a technicality]. It should be noted though that the level of this opposition was low.

A three-time Brazilian senior champion in the amateurs, Maldonado juggled both mixed martial arts and boxing throughout the 2000s going 22-0 in the squared circle, including a Sao Paolo title win, and 17-3 in MMA.

In 2010 he was signed to the UFC and featured on 11 bills including four pay-per-views. The South American went 5-6 in this period, sharing the octagon with former light heavyweight champion Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson and current heavyweight champ Stipe Miocic among others.

After two successive losses, Maldonado was released by the UFC in 2015 and promptly joined the growing Russian scene, going 2-1-1 and claiming the Fight Nights Global light heavyweight title. During this time with FNG, Maldonado returned to boxing and has scored three quick knockout wins.

Kennedy has been building impressively as he enters into his fourth year as a professional. A stellar 2017 saw the Gorey Garda claim the Massachusetts and New England titles with successive wins over Jesse Barboza and Alexis Santos. This won him a contract with Murphys and he has since rattled off another two early stoppages.

The 33-year-old spent time sparring unified heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua toward the end of last year and this, combined with his head-turning Santos win, has Kennedy confident and driven to make major waves in the sport.

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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