Classic Irish Boxing

Images from Irish Boxing – Part 1

Plus, Canelo faces Munguia, Dalton Smith KOs Zepeda and more quick flurries

This article originally appeared in Steve Wellings’ Substack

This week something a little bit different as we take a wander down memory lane
I’m no photographer by any stretch of the imagination, but back in the day, I did have a Sony DSLR camera that I took around the gyms and press conferences of Belfast and beyond.This allowed me to capture some of the sights and sounds of the time. I recently found a couple of SD cards. Over the coming months, I’ll publish a selection of the photos, along with a little explanation of what was going on (that I can remember!).Future images include Carl Frampton, Martin Rogan, Andy Lee, Matthew Macklin, Martin Lindsay, Barry McGuigan, Tommy McCarthy, Jamie Conlan and more. Today it’s Paul McCloskey, a fine fighter from Derry who won the European title and challenged Amir Khan.

The above was taken as McCloskey trained for his European title defence against Giuseppe Lauri in the King’s Hall, 2010. Joe Rea and Jamie Conlan are in the background, top left.In the top right Ashley Theophane can be spotted. He was over sparring Paul before moving to train in the Mayweather Gym, Las Vegas. World title challenger Neil Sinclair was just out of shot.On the bottom left, you can see Willie Thompson. Willie was a decent domestic operator from Ballyclare who left Alan Wilton’s gym in East Belfast to train with John Breen.And on the bottom right, John Breen himself is fixing Paul’s gloves ready for a spar. Breen’s gym was then based in Lombard Street. The likes of Eamonn Magee, Wayne Alexander and Crisanto Espana, to name but three, trained in the hothouse gym at various stages of their careers.
Training ahead of the Lauri fight, McCloskey can be seen sparring with Colin Lynes who travelled over from England to provide some work. Paul had previously beaten Lynes for the British title and they remained friendly.I interviewed Lynes after the spar and he explained how McCloskey had been frustrated by his poor timing and lack of sharpness across the session. Lynes didn’t feel the Dungiven southpaw had anything to worry about. So it proved as he knocked out Lauri in round 11.On another occasion I went to John’s gym and Kevin Johnson was in sparring Terry Dunstan and Martin Rogan. ‘Kingpin’ had his detractors, but he had fast hands. It was an experience listening to that world-class left jab echoing around the gym as it thudded off Dunstan’s gloves. No photos for that day unfortunately.
A few more images to close out. Top two are Paul holding up the EBU belt that he had won by beating Daniel Rasilla in Magherafelt at the close of 2009. After beating Lauri he made one more defence of the title, defeating Barry Morrison in Letterkenny. I was at that fight too and it showed that Paul was ready for the next level.Bottom right is John Breen sitting next to his man at the press conference. I recall this being at the Europa Hotel, Belfast. Someone on Twitter disagreed, so who knows?Bottom left features the headliner flanked by some of the guys who fought on the undercard in the King’s Hall. To the left is Stephen Haughian who lost to Scotland’s Kevin McIntyre for the Celtic welterweight title.Then Carl Frampton who defeated Ian Bailey on points. Jamie Conlan is over to the right. Jamie beat centurion Del Spencer over four rounds.Quick flurries – Canelo, Dalton Smith, Matchroom vs. Queensberry
Canelo and Munguia come face to face ahead of May 4 showdown
The first press conference ahead of their all-Mexican clash went off without incident as both Canelo and Jaime Munguia were courteous and respectful.There was a polite vibe as Oscar De La Hoya joined the pair on the stage and neglected the opportunity to beef with his former charge. History tells us that Canelo tends to keep it cool unless provoked.Many feel that the opponent should be David Benavidez, as Canelo has taken too many predictable outcome bouts since unifying against Caleb Plant. Canelo goes where the most money is generated, and after stints with DAZN and Showtime, the PBC/Prime merger has stepped forward to offer that cash.Mike Tyson called for the Benavidez bout and Canelo responded by questioning his sobriety. The ginger one simply can’t retire without entertaining Benavidez. Munguia is excitable in the ring and seems like a nice guy outside of the ropes. He can only enhance his stock with a solid display. Just be thankful it’s not Edgar Berlanga in the opposite corner.
Dalton Smith KOs Jose Zepeda – leads the way in Sheffield
Dalton Smith edged one step closer to world level by taking out former world title challenger Jose Zepeda in round five. Zepeda had fought the likes of Jose Ramirez, Regis Prograis and Richardson Hitchins in the past and come up short each time. He mentioned retirement before the bout. Smith’s well-placed breadbasket body shot eased him out of the sport.

Area-level woe for Ricky Hatton’s son
Trying so hard to become a chip-off-the-old-block, young Campbell Hatton showed a lot of fire in the build-up and plenty of heart in the ring but his level right now is clear cut. Champion James Flint was a worthy winner after 10 intense rounds.The Doncaster switch-hitter slowed Hatton down to the body, utilised a strong jab and caught Campbell square on repeatedly. Flint’s experience told and his fans went home happy.
Rest of the Matchroom card 
Sandy Ryan defeated Terri Harper by fourth-round retirement. Ishmael Davis stepped up with a 12-round decision over Troy Williamson and Nico Leivars stopped Piotr Mirga in round nine.
5×5 divisions announced – Matchroom vs. Queensberry
We learned the five divisions that will contain the Saudi Eddie vs. Frank card. Deontay Wilder vs. Zhilei Zhang is expected to be one of the two heavyweight fights. The other bouts will be contested at light-heavyweight, middleweight and featherweight.The Kingdom is really upping its game. Fury and Usyk will face off on May 18, and two weeks later, on June 1, the main event will be Artur Beterbiev vs. Dmitry Bivol.Media Credits: SW Boxing Archive, Irish Boxing Review, Matchroom Sport.About Steve: Experienced boxing writer, author of 8 books and podcaster of over 500 eps. 20 years in the sport. Covered hundreds of shows for newspapers and Boxing News magazine. Chief video script writer for Motivedia channel and BN+. For enquiries:


Integral part of the Irish boxing community for over 13 years