Have to choose which Belfast show to go to? Hearn and Rawling state their cases

Belfast is the undisputed fight capital of Ireland, and the Titanic City is in for a treat next month.

There will be two big TV shows in two weeks in the city, sending Irish boxing fans into dreamland.

Saturday June 10th will see the Sky Sports cameras return to the city and the SSE Odyssey Arena for the first time in four years as North Belfast bantamweight Ryan Burnett challenges for the IBF title currently strapped around the waist of Englishman Lee Haskins.

So far confirmed for the ‘Belfast Boy‘ undercard are James Tennyson, Paul Hyland Jr, Padraig McCrory, Feargal McCrory, Matt Wilton, Sean Magee, Paddy Gallagher, and Tyrone McCullagh.

Then on Saturday June 17th, BoxNation will run their third show in the city in under a year, and a second successive bill at the Waterfront Hall.

The ‘Battle of Belfast’ card sees Paddy Barnes fight Silvio Oltenau for the WBO European flyweight title, Stephen Ormond fight Craig Evans for the WBO lightweight title, Jono Carroll fight Johnny Quigley for the IBF East/West Europe title, with further undercard support from Lewis Crocker, Steven Ward, Jamie Conlan, Sean McGlinchey, David Oliver Joyce, and Alex Dickinson.

The two shows are great for the city, great for the fans, great for the fighters, and great for us here at Irish-Boxing.com.

While, in an ideal world, fight fans would go to both cards – and indeed many Belfast boxing fans will do just that – it will be financially impossible for many to go to both. Choices will have to be made by some.

With this in mind, representatives from both Queensberry Promotions and Matchroom Boxing were asked for their best sales pitch during the week at the respective press conferences for both shows.

Why, if fans must pick, should they pick your show?

BoxNation presenter John Rawling believes that the numerous competitive match-ups on the Waterfront Hall card sets it apart.

He argued that “you only need to look at the fights that you’ve got here. You’ve got level fights, you’ve got competitive fights, and you’ve got in my opinion fights which can’t fail. What’s the top of the bill for a start? It’s hard to say.”

“Craig Evans against Stephen Ormond, you just know that cannot fail as a contest. Stephen is never in a dull fight, Craig is the same sort of fighter, they will come forward and collide. That is an absolute guaranteed terrific fight.”

“Jono [Carroll] and Johnny Quigley, again they have so much to gain from winning that. Whoever comes through that is making a bit of a statement and moving on to the next level. Whoever loses, it’s a significant setback.”

Rawling is pleased with the depth of the bill and the quality of the fighters on the card and outlined how “looking beyond that, you’ve got Paddy Barnes, you’ve got Jamie Conlan, you’ve got David [Oliver Joyce] making his debut.”

“I think it’s an outstanding bill. The last one was a very good one which delivered – this, I think, is better because you’ve got those two fights at the top which are guaranteed fights that you don’t know who’s the stronger. I don’t know. If you were a bookmaker, who would you make the favourite? They’re difficult calls and that’s the definition of a good fight.”

For Matchroom boss Eddie Hearn, with Ryan Burnett fighting for a world title, it’s simple, and he noted that “you’ve got one of your own, who is a very talented fighter, fighting a world champion in a fifty-fifty fight.”

That said, the English promoter acknowledged that there is competition, continuing “we’ve got a show the week after ours, so it’s going to be tough, for everybody.”

“I’m not here with my begging cap saying ‘please come, please come’…. but, please come, please come,” he joked.

While the ‘Belfast Boy’ card has the advantage in terms of the headline world title fight, Hearn believes that this is not enough on it’s own – especially with the ‘Battle of Belfast’ coming the week after.

“You can’t go both [shows], so I think we have to put on a strong undercard,” he admitted

“We’re going to put those kids who were sitting up there [undercard fighters], as many of them in proper fights as we can, stick in some Matchroom stars as well, and see how we get on.”

Tickets for ‘Belfast Boy’ on June 10th at the SSE Odyssey Arena cost £30, £40, £60, £100, and £150 (VIP), and can be bought from the boxers involved or HERE.

Tickets for the ‘Battle of Belfast’ card on June 17th at the Waterfront Hall cost £30, £40, £60, and £150, and are available from the boxers involved or from HERE.

Irish-Boxing.com would urge fans, where possible, to buy your tickets from the boxers involved on the shows.

Gavan Casey and Joe O’Neill on Episode 4 of The Irish Boxing 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