Irish Boxing | 5 of the Greatest Irish Boxers Ever

There have been many great Irish boxers over the years, but these five can claim to the best Irish boxers to step into the ring. 

Five of the Best Irish Boxers to Ever Grace the Ring

Ireland have produced many a great boxer of the years, there can be no doubt about that. Below we are going to take a look at some of the best Irish boxers to grace the ring. We should note here that boxers from Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland were taken into account, but not those who were born in America with Irish ancestry. So, without further ado, let us take us dive right in. 

The big read: Oh boy, what a fighter Dave McAuley was -

Dave McAuley

McAuley was born in Larne, Northern Ireland, and he is regarded by boxing fans to be one of the greatest flyweights that Ireland has ever produced. In 1987, McAuley took on Fidel Bassa in his first tilt at a world title, but he went on to lose. He fought Bassa in a rematch the following year and lost again. However, despite his defeats, the fights were close, and both were voted as the Fight of the Year. In 1989, McAuley took on Duke McKenzie, for the IBF Flyweight World Title, and he won to hand McKenzie his first ever defeat in the ring. He successfully defended his title five times, before he was finally beaten in a split-decision by Rodolfo Blanco. When he retired, he had a record of 18-3-2, and took up bull riding instead. It is fair to say that he was a bit of a gambler in life and, with career figures like those, any other gambler who bet on McAuley to win a fight would more often than not walk away with some extra money in their pocket. Nowadays, you do not need to walk anywhere as you can bet on boxing from the comfort of your own home thanks to online betting sites and you can find the best one for you at Irish online sports betting comparison sites right here.  

John Monaghan

He was known as Rinty Monaghan due to his love of dogs – he used to bring injured dogs home so regularly that his granny started calling him Rin Tin Tin, from the film Dog, and it was eventually shortened to Rinty. Despite his softness outside the ring, inside it he was a heavy hitter who earned himself a reputation as being one of the most charismatic boxers ever. Whenever he won a fight, he would snatch up the microphone and sing “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling” to his adoring fans. Rinty won the Commonwealth, European, and British Championships before his best ever win in the ring on October 20th, 1947. On this day, he beat Dado Marino on points to win the NBA World Flyweight Title. He became the undisputed world champion when he knocked Jackie Patterson out in the 7th round. When he retired, he had a record of 51-9-6, and he became a cabaret artist when he stepped away from the ring. 

Tom Sharkey 

Sharkey, born in Dundalk, Ireland, was a brawler who took his hard-hitting style of fighting to a World Championship title. When he was a boy, he ran away from home and eventually found himself in New York. He decided to join the US Navy and he took up boxing professionally when he was deployed in Hawaii. He took on the very talented Jim Corbett and drew the fight, and then he became World Champion when he won against Bob Fitzsimmons. The latter was the heavy favorite, and many put their money on him and after eight rounds it looked like they were right to do so as Fitzsimmons was dominating. However, Fitzsimmons was disqualified when he was adjudged to have delivered a low blow to Sharkey when he was already down. Very few witnessed this, but Sharkey was declared Champion. The referee, Wyatt Earp, was accused of match fixing. When he retired from this ring, he had a record of 38-7-6 and, in 2003, he was entered into the International Boxing Hall of Fame. 

Barry McGuigan: Routes to the Body - YouTube

Barry McGuigan 

McGuigan represented Northern Ireland at the Commonwealth Games in 1978 and the Summer Olympics in 1980, and turned professional the following year. In 1982, he took on Young Ali, a West African Champion, and in the 6th round McGuigan hit him with a fierce punch to the face that he would never get up from. Ali fell into a coma and was flown back to his native Nigeria on a life support machine – he died six months later. This was an accident that would haunt McGuigan for most of his career. In 1983, McGuigan beat Vernon Penprase to win the British title, and later that same year he defeated Valerio Nati to win the European crown. He got his first shot at the world title in 1985, when Eusebio Pedroza flew to fight him in London. The fight lasted 15 rounds, but McGuigan became the WBA World Featherweight Champion by unanimous decision. He defended his title twice against Danilo Cabrera and Bernard Taylor, but he finally lost it to Stevie Cruz in an epic fight in Las Vegas. After he lost his title, McGuigan retired and finished his career with 32 wins and 3 loss – 28 of those wins were by knockout. In 2005, he was added to the International Boxing Hall of Fame.

Steve Collins 

Collins, also called “The Celtic Warrior”, won the Super Middleweight and WBO Middleweight titles during his very impressive career. At amateur level he won 26 Irish titles before becoming professional in 1986 and heading over to the US. After two years as a pro, he won the Irish Middleweight title thanks to a win against Sam Storey, and then he went on a 17-match winning streak. Collins got his first shot at a world title in 1990, but he lost to Mike McCallum. In 1994, he broke onto the world stage with two fights against Chris Eubank, one of the best English boxers ever. Collins won both of the fights.  He also went on to defeat Nigel Benn twice to cement his place as one of the best fighters of his era. He had to retire early from the sport due to head injuries but finished with an impressive career record of 36 wins and 3 defeats.


Integral part of the Irish boxing community for over 13 years