The island of Ireland has certainly had its share of gifted fighters over the years, spanning all classes from light-fly to heavy. Maybe it was born from the 800 years of fighting we’ve been through, or just our stubbornness to be the best, but pound for pound, we can’t be beaten.
A few controversies over the years has sparked some debate, but just like the best legit online casino Canada has to offer, which can be found here, it just adds to the excitement. Here’s our pick of the 3 best boxers the Emerald Isle has produced over the years, and like everything from Ireland, it too will spark a little debate.
- Barry McGuigan
Irish boxing in the eighties belonged to McGuigan and he certainly did it justice, as much outside the ring as in it. His unsuccessful Olympic campaign in 1980 saw him turn pro and 1983 his sixth round knock out of Italian Valerio Nati saw him take the European Featherweight title. 1984 saw him win 6 knockout fights to be the number one contender for the WBA Featherweight title.
Further wins saw him get his chance at glory against the reigning champion, Eusebio Pedroza. Pedroza had carried the belt through 18 fights over a 7-year reign, but in front of a tremendous crowd in London, McGuigan knocked him to the floor in the seventh and was declared the victor on points.
He defended his title twice before losing it to Stevie Cruz in Las Vegas, becoming hospitalised with dehydration after the bell. The death of his father in 1987, he may have lost a little of his motivation and he eventually retired with a record of 32-3. In 2005 he was quite rightly inducted into the Boxing Hall of Fame.
His career aside, he used his fame to unite the people of Northern Ireland through the troubles and never lost his passion for peace. He famously fought with the United Nations flag on his shorts to bring attention to the political situation in his country and guide those that looked up to him towards a peaceful existence.
- Jimmy McLarnin
Whilst he was bought up and fought out of Canada, McLarnin was born in County Down and the “Belfast Spider” is well known as being in the top 5 Welterweight fighters of all time. He rose to fame for his hard hitting and earned his first title shot in 1928, losing to lightweight champion Sammy Mandell. He came back from that first professional defeat to win the title 5 years later, defeating famed boxer Young Corbett III, knocking him out in just 2 minutes and 37 seconds.
Over his not-so-long career, he would defeat 13 world champions and hold the world welterweight title twice and earn his place in the Hall of Fame. He retired at the top of his game after crushing victories against Tony Canzoneri and Lou Ambers and refused some decent money to return to the ring. His professional record of 55-11 with just one knock out against him is incredible for that age and helped cement his place in history.
- Steve Collins
If the 80’s belonged to McGuigan, Collins certainly owned the 90’s by obtaining both the WBO middleweight and super-middleweight titles. The “Celtic Warrior” won 26 Irish National titles before turning pro and making his way to the states. He made his name known when he stepped in as a substitute in a WBA middleweight title fight against champion Mike McCallum. It was his first professional defeat but showed the world his potential as the fight went the rounds.
In 1994 he won the WBA middleweight title by defeating Chris Pyatt, which he relinquished the following year without challenge as he could no longer make the weight. When Ray Close pulled out of his title shot against Chris Eubank in 1995 due to failing an MRI, Collins made the decision to move up to super-middleweight and took his place in the fight.
As the current title holder, the unbeaten Eubank was riding an incredible reign of 7 defences and looked all but unstoppable. But that’s exactly what Collins did, winning the mental war as well as physical. He kept the title until injury forced him to pull out of a match against Joe Calzaghe, whereupon the WBO stripped him of the title.
He retired unbeaten after falling out with the boxing federation, chasing a fight against Roy Jones Jr that never materialised. He went on to make guest start appearances in films and music videos before joining the English army as a boxing coach.