There are some fighters that you just know will bring entertainment every time they step into the ring. Fighters who perhaps could make things easier for themselves but, whether through pride or an innate need to entertain, always put on a show for the crowd – and for that they are adored in return.
Between bloodied battles, big knock outs, and busting-a-move, we take a look at Ireland’s five most fan-friendly fighters:
Bangor’s Black Mamba is the most entertaining journeyman around. He moves and grooves around the ring like a dancefloor and, most importantly, throws shots back at the young prospects who are forced to go through a twelve-minute baptism of fire. Hugely popular in boxing circles, the Ugandan-born veteran has been inactive thus far this year, but in 2015 Matovu fought fourteen times and won the irish-boxing.com Steve Collins Warrior of the Year award.
Paul Hyland Jr
The Belfast man goes to war in seemingly every fight. Matched progressively by promoter Mark Dunlop, Hyland Jr has proven himself able to take a shot and grind out a win against tough opposition – none more so that Virgile Degonzaga. His bout with with the Frenchman won him many admirers including World champion Carl Frampton who described it as “one of the best six round fights I’ve ever seen.” Dublin fans will get a taste of Hylo’s all-action style next weekend at the National Stadium on the FS Promotions ‘The Future’ show.
The Cork fighter throws every punch with knockout intentions. ‘Spike’ doesn’t have a backwards gear, and doesn’t particularly need one considering his concussive power. Away from his old-school style, the Leesider is one of the most entertaining fighters around, with his cocky swagger, shamrock hairstyle, and the occasional post-KO dance. The 31 year old returns to the ring next month in Massachusetts, where he is perhaps even more famous than in Ireland, down at light middleweight and there will be few 154lbers capable of handling his punch.
In his recent fights, the Belfast little man has marked himself out as Mr. Entertainment. Last year ‘The Irish Gatti’ has a legendary win over Junior Granados at the National Stadium which every spectator will remember for the rest of their lives, and has undoubtedly sown-up the 2016 Fight of the Year award with his knockdown-trading win over Anthony Nelson in April to claim the Commonwealth title. Originally nicknamed ‘The Mexican’ for his exciting style, such a moniker now almost seems insufficient.
Phil Sutcliffe Jr
If you were to compare any Irish fighter to Mike Tyson it would have to be Crumlin’s Phil Sutcliffe. The softly-spoken, steely-eyed Succo would intimidate a heavyweight. Probably possessing, pound-for-pound, the most powerful hands on the island, the 26 year old menacingly stalks opponents around the ring, trapping them and unleashing wincing shots that are most likely felt by their ancestors. Defeated narrowly in a short-notice bout last month with Swedish star Anthony Yigit, Sutcliffe plans to return to the ring in July and chase big fights and a European title.
Photo Credit: Ricardo Gulglielminotti – The FIghting Irish (@ThefIrish)