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The Awards – ‘The Kevin McBride Shock of the Year’

It is a well-worn cliché that one punch can change a fight, and that nothing is sure in boxing, and 2015 was proof of that.

There were many moments, both good and bad, throughout the year that upset the odds and made us spit out our drinks in shock.

Seeing as it is the tenth anniversary of Kevin McBride’s upset victory over Mike Tyson we feel that it is fitting to name this award after the Clones Colossus.

Which of the following do you think was the biggest shock of 2015?:

Frampton down twice in 1st round v Alejandro González Jr
Never in a million years did people think that Alejandro González Jr had the ability to knock down Carl Frampton, never mind twice in the first round. But he hit the floor twice, and we all recoiled in collective horror at the though that the Belfast superstar could be stopped early in his U.S. debut. Thankfully, ‘The Jackal’ showed true class to box his way to a comprehensive points win, impressing the American audience while doing so.

Paul Quinn v Martin Mubiru
The highly popular Paul Quinn took a step up in class during the Summer at the Féile Fight Night when he took on Martin Mubiru. Nevertheless, people expected Mighty Quinn to overcome the Uganda heavy-hitter. Alas, the Downpatrick man, beset by a leg injury, succumbed to a fifth round stoppage loss after being put down twice in the third round.

The Billy Walsh Saga
Maybe not a massive shock considering that it had been mooted previously, however most felt that Walsh was likely to stay, especially considering he had just led Ireland to their greatest ever performance at the World Amateur Championships. Nevertheless, it happened, he left, and despite threats and pleas, Walsh will now command the U.S women’s team at next year’s Olympics.

Marco McCullough v Zoltan Kovacs
Featherweight Marco McCullough is highly-rated in Belfast and many hold World title ambitions for the 26 year old. These hopes came temporarily skidding to a halt during the Summer when McCullough was sensationally stopped in the opening round by journeyman Zoltan Kovacs in Germany. Encouragingly, McCullough has bounced back with two wins and it looks like this loss is just a momentary blip on his route to the top.

Tyson Fury wins World Heavyweight title
Maybe not a massive shock to some people, especially in hindsight, but Tyson Fury was priced at over 3/1 ahead of the massive bout in Duesseldorf. The former Irish champ though was certainly not overawed by the occasion or the opposition and boxed brilliantly en-route to a comfortable points win over the Ukrainian legend, one of the most dominant champions in boxing history.

Lee-Saunders in Thomond cancelled
We were all ready. It was going to be the biggest boxing event in Ireland’s history. 30,000+ were to cram into Thomond Park to see Limerick’s own Andy Lee defend his WBO middleweight title against Billy Joe Saunders. Sadly though, the fight was postponed with Lee contracting a virus – however rumours of low ticket sales continue to circulate.

Gabe Bracero v Danny O’Connor
Irish-American star Danny O’Connor was on a good run of form in 2015 and the Celtic fanatic was looking to exert revenge for one of only two career losses against Bracero in Boston back in October. Sadly however, the title-chasing O’Connor was caught cold by a massive overhand shot, leaving his future career in doubt.

Andy Lee knocked down and defeated by Billy Joe Saunders
Going into their WBO middleweight title fight, nobody thought that Billy Joe Saunders had the power to hurt Any Lee. Oh how wrong were we. The English slickster floored Lee twice in the third with massive shots and the Limerick man showed incredible heart to make it through the round. In what was otherwise a close clash, the knockdowns swayed the bout in favour of Saunders who won via a tight majority decision to take the belt.

Steven Donnelly qualifies for the Olympics
And a good one to finish on. Steven Donnelly had long thought he was out of the running for Olympic qualification following a visa mix-up that hindered his WSB season. However, in October, revealed that he still had a chance at making it to amateur boxing’s Holy Grail and in December it was confirmed that the Ballymena welterweight would trade leather with the World’s best next Summer in Rio

Joe O'Neill

Reporting on Irish boxing the past five years. Work has appeared on, Boxing News,, and local and national media. Provide live ringside updates, occasional interviews, and special features on the future of Irish boxing. email: