The BT Sport cameras are in town for a massive bill at the SSE Odyssey Arena featuring no less than 10 Irish fighters from prospects right up to world title challengers and champions.
Below Irish-Boxing.com takes a look at the men that will man the opposition corner and what sort of fights it looks like we will be in for.
Carl Frampton [23(14)-1(0)] headlines the night in his first fight back since losing his WBA featherweight title to Leo Santa Cruz in January. Here he will face Horacio Garcia [33(24)-3(0)-1] in a ten-round non-title affair. The Guadalajaran has been described as a “stereotypical Mexican” and should provide game opposition – albeit below Frampton’s level.
‘Violento’ is promoted by Golden Boy and possesses an exciting come-forward style, although can be something of a stationary target. Durable, but has been knocked down before, it would nevertheless be a statement of sorts if Frampton can force an early ending.
The 27 year old was outpointed over ten by top featherweight contender JoJo Diaz last year and moved down to super bantamweight where he traded wins with Diuhl Olguin. His only other defeat came on points to three-weight world champion Hozumi Hasegawa. In his win column. He holds victories over contenders such as Fernando Lumacad, Jonathan Perez, Josue Veraza, and Fernando Vargas
An understandable and acceptable fight for a comeback, expect Frampton to look to put on a show in front of his adoring fans.
Co-main sees Belfast super flyweight Jamie Conlan [19(11)-0] look to claim arguably the biggest result in Irish boxing history – and one of the shocks of the year – when he challenges IBF champion Jerwin Ancajas [27(18)-1(0)-1].
The Filipino 25 year old is making the third defence of his belt following a comprehensive stoppage victory over mandatory challenger Teiru Kinoshita. Promoted by Manny Pacquiao, Ancajas built his record in the Philippines and on big Top Rank cards in Macau before jumping in with, and clearly beating, established name McJoe Arroyo.
A big southpaw, although smaller than Conlan, ‘Pretty Boy’ is a talented outside fighter with good movement and defence – however he has been showing a deadly streak in recent times with 13 stoppages in his last 14 fights, dating back to his sole defeat to domestic rival Mark Anthony Geraldo in 2012.
An outstandingly tough fight for Conlan, ‘The Mexican’ has pledged to show his skill rather than grit in this fight – although one suspects he will need to show more of both than ever.
Belfast flyweight Paddy Barnes [4(0)-0] targets a spot in the WBO top 10 when he goes for a second belt with the organisation. The WBO European champion takes on Nicaraguan Eliecer Quezada [21(8)-6(2)-3] for the vacant WBO Intercontinental title.
A veteran of the notoriously tough Nicaraguan scene, the 26 year old has fought for a number of rankings belts throughout his career and also holds two points wins over Yader Cardoza – who was edged out on a split decision by Jamie Conlan back in March.
Quezada is a rather late find, with the fight only being made last week – which may explain him weighing in both 4 (initially) and 2.5 (eventually) pounds over the flyweight limit. Undoubtedly this will affect the Central American, however he still represents an exceedingly tough fight for one’s fifth contest.
Maybe not as skilled as Silvio Olteanu, the Latino hardman however will push Barnes hard.
Jono Carroll [14(1)-0] goes for a second IBF belt on the bill, looking to add the super featherweight Intercontinental strap to the East/West Europe belt he won during the Summer.
Initially due to face Declan Geraghty in a rematch of their 2014 Irish Fight of the Year, this fight was announced to be off last week. A mad dash to find a new opponent ensued, with eight fighters turning down the chance to face King Kong before Mexican Humberto De Santiago [15(11)-4(0)-1] stepped forward.
The 24 year old built his record on the tough Mexican circuit where he won the WBC FECOMBOX title. In his only previous trip abroad, El Convicto travelled to Australia to take on unbeaten world-ranked featherweight contender Luke Jackson back in September. De Santiago was beaten in a competitive bout in which he posed Jackson problems, cutting the Aussie and finishing strong.
A rugged, durable, fit opponent with a big punch, Carroll will need to be turned on for the entirety of the twelve rounds.
Belfast welter Lewis Crocker [3(3)-0] looks likely to add to his KO streak on the big bill. The Sandy Row puncher takes on Gyula Rozsas [2(1)-1(1)] over four. The 18 year old Hungarian only turned pro in July, winning his first two fights before being stopped in the third round by Ferenc Katona – who himself has been stopped by Darren Cruise and Tyrone McKenna. Expect another highlight reel stoppage from ‘The Croc’ who has looked sensational as a pro thus far.
Rio Olympian Davey Oliver Joyce [4(3)-0] continues his busy start to pro life on the bill with his fifth contest in five months. The Mullingar super feather faces Reynaldo Cajina [14(10)-45(10)-5] over six rounds. The Barcelona-based boxer is a frequent visitor to Britain and Ireland and is durable to a degree, however tends to get stopped against opponents with power – which the relentless Joyce certainly has. A compact, come-forward fighter, Cajina will most likely wilt in the face of Joyce’s barrages.
Making his return from a British title loss, Belfast featherweight Marco McCullough [17(10)-4(3)] has been handed a potentially very tough fight. The Shankill man takes on English fighter Josh Baillie [5(2)-3(1)] over six. ‘The Boss’ is primarily a super featherweight/lightweight [this bout is being contested at 133lbs] and has proven himself to be extremely game. The away fighter has not fought in a year, which will favour McCullough, however caused a shock last time out, showing he can both brawl and box to sto 8-0 Manny Zaber on cuts to win the British Promoters Association Challenge belt. This is an undercard bout which could become a war.
Newtownabbey light heavy Steven Ward [5(2)-0] has a game opponent in Przemyslaw Binienda [2(2)-13(5)], but should have too much for the Pole in their six rounder. Binienda, with his high workrate, gave Chris Mullally a scare in the Kildare man’s debut before a final round knockdown rescued a win for the tiring Irishman. Further along in his career, Ward’s gas tank won’t be a problem and an opponent who presents attacking opportunities like Binienda will suit him and allow ‘The Quiet Man’ to show his power.
A very tricky fight awaits Tommy McCarthy [10(6)-1(0)] early on in the bill. The Belfast cruiser has been matched with Cameroonian dangerman Blaise Mendouo [4(1)-7(1)] over six. The Commonwealth Games bronze medalist and Olympian has almost caused shocks against noted cruiserweight names such as Simon Vallily and Sam Hyde and this looks to be the hardest fight of McCarthy’s career aside from his three big bouts with domestic titlists Courtney Fry, Jon Lewis Dickinson, and Matty Askin. A crafty, ultra-durable opponent, Mendouo can frustrate and exploit and even an impressive points win – never mind a stoppage – would be a good statement from McCarthy
Opening the card is Naas lightweight Gary Cully [2(2)-0] who has been handed a late test. The Kildare boxer has been matched with Birmingham welter Kane Baker [4(0)-1(1)] in their four rounder. An extremely aggressive foe, Baker will have over half a stone on Cully, and will be coming to win – as evidenced by his loss to Conor Benn back in September – although Cully’s length and skill should see him able to stay on the outside. 21 year old Cully proved he had notable power with a stoppage over Josh Thorne, however an early finish against a welterweight would be something else.
Away from the Irish interest on the card, Liverpool heavyweight Alex Dickinson [2(2)-0] faces Milen Paunov [3(2)-4(0)] over four. The squat Bulgarian has proven durable on his travels, so this one may go the distance.
Then there is a WBO bantamweight title defence for Zolani Tete [25(20)-3(1)] against South African countryman Siboniso Gonya [11(5)-1(0)]. The challenger is leaping up in levels and, considering the national angle and the desire to make a statement in rival Ryan Burnett’s hometown, the mercurially talented Tete could blow Gonya away.
It’s certainly going to be a busy and entertaining night in Belfast. Early on make sure to look out for Cully, McCarthy, and McCullough’s bouts before the Carroll kicks things off for the Irish on the main card.