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Irish ‘Wonderkid’ and Conor McGregor sparring partner turns pro with Frank Warren

Frank Warren has snapped up another Irish teen talent today.

The Queensbury fight boss added 19-year-old Dublin’s ‘wonderkid’ Willo Hayden to his books.

Hayden was a standout underage amateur winning European Schoolboys (U14) gold in 2016 and picking up 11 Irish titles at various age groups along the way.

The Crumlin BC graduate also had notoriety from sparring Conor McGregor when he visited the Crumlin Gym and was part of the camp for the Dustin Poirier ahead of UFC 257 in Abu Dhabi. The young prospect was also a regular over in the Celtic Warrior Gym where he used to spar some pros there from his mid teens.

There were high amateur hopes for the Crumlin fighter, but he turns over before ever competing in the senior ranks. Speaking earlier this year he revealed he had his sights set on a senior title but the cancelation of the National Elites changed his plans. understand Hayden has been exploring pro options for a number of months now and there was interest from America, UK and beyond.

After meeting a number of promoters the young talented Dubliner has elected to sign with Frank Warren, whom he met in person late last Friday night.

Hayden joins John Joyce, Edward Donovan and Jason Harty as Irish underage standouts on the books of Warren, while Caomhin Agyarko, a fighter who made an impact at senior amateur level and British super featherweight champion Anthony Cacace also become stablemates.

Hayden is expected to remain in Crumlin where he will train under Phil Sutcliffe and his father Paul and is set to debut in the near future. The new to the pro scene operator has proven he can be a bit of a character when calling out UFC star Khabib Nurmagomedov. Hayden wasn’t too happy with the Russian questioning McGregor’s sparring and let fly.

“How about you back up your mouth and organize a time and a location for me to fight you. I’m only a “little kid” so this should be no problem for you? I can guarantee you that I will make you quit like the chicken you are.

“From your own words, “Die like a samurai, don’t chicken out please”. Now all you have to do is put your own words into action.”

Jonny Stapleton contributor for 15 years and editor for the past decade. Have been covering boxing for over 16 years and writing about sports for a living for over 20 years. Former Assistant Sports editor for the Gazette News Paper Group and former Tallaght Voice Sports Editor. Have had work published in publications around the world when working as a freelance journalist. Also co-founder of Junior Sports Media and Leinster Rugby PRO of the Year winner. email:

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