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The Awards – ‘The Steve Collins Warrior of the Year’

Boxing is the toughest and loneliest sport in the World.

Many boxers work as hard as any but don’t get the credit they deserve and here we are honouring the under-appreciated pugilists from these shores – our warrior of the year

And when thinking of Warriors, who else could we name this award after other than the Celtic Warrior himself, Steve Collins, who celebrated the twentieth anniversary of his victorie over Chris Eubank this year.

And the nominees are:

Alec Bazza
The Belfast Spartan has had a winless year, registering nine defeats since June, going the distance in each, although his last four have been razor-close 39-38 reversals. We got to see the light welterweight in action this year at the Red Cow Hotel where he dropped a close decision to Bulgarian journeyman Yordan Vasilev. The home fighter for the first time in his career, Bazza showed true class following the loss, lifting up his opponent after the bout in a genuine act of sportsmanship between two warriors.

Eamonn O’Kane
Definitely not a journeyman, but King Kane certainly showed his warrior spirit in October at Madison Square Garden on the Golovkin-Lemieux PPV undercard. Fighting highly rated Bahamian star Tureano Johnson in an IBF title eliminator, O’Kane was knocked to the canvas twice and went on to absorb the greatest number of power-shots by a middleweight since CompuBox records began. Nevertheless, the Derry boxer continued to march forward, giving Johnson one of the toughest fights of his career.

Moses Matovu
Perhaps the most popular journeyman in boxing. The Black Mamba has been up to his old tricks this year, losing fourteen times to prospects up and down Britain, but never failing to put on a show. The Bangor-based Ugandan cruiserweight is a fixture at the York Hall and always gives youngsters a tough fight, and giving the crowd their money’s worth with his attacking style and infectious personality. Now 39 years old, Moses is showing no sign of slowing down.

Joe Rea
Super middleweight Rea has relocated to Australia and is giving up-and-coming prospects hell. Síucra Rea has claimed two draws against highly rated boxers, Bilal Akkawy and Luke Sharp, in his twelve fights, as well as sending Mark Lucas to the canvas early in their recent fight. Indeed Rea has been the victim of a few dubious decisions this year, but the Ballymena man soldiers on, giving starlets the fight, and sometimes the fright, of their careers.

Adam Nolan
A true professional, it has been a frustrating year for Adam Nolan. The Wexford Garda lost in the quarter final of the European Games to Josh Kelly before missing out on another medal at the European Championships. Here he sensationally beat the APB #1 and WSB #2 in his opening bouts before losing to Pavel Kastramin in the quarter finals. Then in October, the Bray BC man lost a highly controversial decision to Eimantas Stanionis. Nolan then had his hopes of going to a second consecutive Olympics extinguished by the late qualification of Steven Donnelly. Nevertheless, he has continued on like the class act he is and retained his National title in December – just one day after the death of his grandmother.

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: