Ireland’s Biggest Punchers – Part One
By Joe O’Neill
As Mayweather-Pacquiao has shown, while boxing may be the Sweet Science of hitting and not being hit, the excitement of a KO will invariably trump that of a defensive boxing display. Luckily for us, Ireland is blessed with many big-hitting, exciting, boxers. Boxers capable of turning a bout on its head with just one punch. Boxers capable of swiftly sending whomever they are fighting straight to the canvas and out for the ten-count. Here, in the first of two parts (and in no particular order), irish-boxing.com takes a look at the island’s most powerful professional punchers.
The current WBO Middleweight king marked himself out as a fearsome puncher in only his 8th fight when he knocked out former world champion Carl Daniels with a mesmerising right hook.
Now with Adam Booth, Lee [34(24)-2(2)-1] has developed a strong inside game, and even greater power, to compliment the outside boxing skills he honed under the late, great, Emmanuel Stewart at the Kronk Gym in Detroit. This has been evident in the Limerick puncher’s last three fights where his now-famous right hook has stopped both John Jackson and Matt Korobov as well as putting Peter Quillin on his backside for the first time in the American’s career.
Turning 31 soon, and only getting better, the 2004 Olympian is aiming to hold on to his belt for a long time – and, with the ability to finish fights in the blink of an eye, it will be a tough task for anyone to take it off him.
Another Munster Middleweight, Gary ‘Spike’ O’Sullivan [20(13)-1(0)], hits like a mule. This can be seen in his devastating first round uppercut finish of Anto Fitzgerald last November which won the Boxing Union of Ireland’s 2014 ‘Knockout of the Year’ award. One of Irish boxing’s most colourful characters, the unorthodox Cork puncher trains under Paschal Collins at the Celtic Warriors Gym.
2015 so far has been a good year for Spike who has signed with Ken Casey and Murphy’s Boxing and is now fighting regularly in the U.S. The Leesider has since further exemplified his ferocious power when stopping former world title challenger, Milton Nunez, inside three rounds at Madison Square Garden.
The 30 year old fights again on May 23rd as part of the Dirrell-Degale undercard in Boston. Here, as part of the ‘Premier Boxing Champions’ series, he will hopefully make his US television debut against Melvin Betancourt [29(23)-1(1)] a knockout artist hailing from the Dominican Republic. The mustachioed maestro will be seeking another stoppage victory as he targets title shots in the not too distant future.
Phil Sutcliffe Jnr.
Ever since he roared into the public consciousness with a knockout of returning Beijing Olympian John Joe Joyce in the 2009 Elite National finals, Sutcliffe [8(6)-0] has been marked out as an explosive puncher. The Crumlin slugger has carried this reputation into the pro game with a series of knockout wins before a one round destruction of respected Liverpudlian, Terry Needham. Such victories have made it difficult for manager, Pat Magee, to find British-level opposition for ‘Succo’. Therefore they have opted to take the less-travelled European route to titles.
This journey began at the start of the month at the Red Cow Moran Hotel with an eight round UD victory over former French champ and European title challenger, Yoann Portailler. The 2009 EU Bronze medalist had his man down in the first before exhibiting his considering boxing skills en-route to pitching a shut-out victory. Wanting to stay active, the 25 year old plans to fight regularly, starting in June, before challenging for a notable title around Christmas. Expect a string of stoppages.
Even as an amateur, ‘Cool Hand’ Luke [8(5)-1(0)] always had a big-punching style. An impressive stoppage of Festim Lama is just one of many highlights from the Dubliner’s early pro career. Then, last November, on a Matchroom card in Dublin, the 28 year old impressed Eddie Hearn with a one round blowout of the normally durable Gary Boulden. This eye-catching performance resulted in a Prizefighter berth for the Ballyfermot boxer.
Keeler’s knockout potential was well-known and bookmakers were offering short odds on him winning the tournament with an unprecedented three stoppages. Unfortunately, after breaking his hand in the first minute of his first fight, the pre-tournament favourite’s night ended at the semi final stage against eventual winner Tom Doran. However, Hearn still rates Keeler highly and one can expect the determined Celtic Warriors fighter to feature on many more Matchroom shows once he has fully recovered from injury.
Currently number one on Ireland’s burgeoning domestic heavyweight scene, the 24 year old Dubliner has spectacular one-punch knockout power. As we all know, Turner [4(3)-0] announced his arrival to the professional ranks by knocking out his debut opponent with his very first paid punch. ‘Big Sexy’ followed this, the fastest knockout in Irish boxing history, with two more eye-catching early finishes in his next three fights.
The former Elite National amateur champ is now training permanently under Peter Fury in Bolton after impressing whilst acting as a sparring partner in preparation for Tyson Fury’s second bout with Dereck Chisora. With this high quality backing, expect more big knockouts from Big Sexy in the future.
Stay tuned for Ireland’s biggest punchers Part Two in the coming days…