For various reasons boxing in the capital hasn’t had the same boom as boxing in Belfast, the capital of Irish boxing.
There have been positive signs with a host of talent outside of Belfast turning over and the likes of Boxing Ireland Promotions, Assassin Promotions, SK Promotions, Red Corner Promotions, Tony Davitt Promotions, Neil Power Promotions, and FS Boxing running shows in recent years outside of Belfast
Indeed, on July 14th Boxing Ireland and Davitt run their fifth co-promotion in just over a year when the Celtic Clash series returns to Good Counsel GAA club in Drimnagh.
Red Corner and Assassin managed to secure terrestrial TV in the form of TG4 to broadcast the Last Man Standing – and so successful was that night, numbers-wise, that Assassin remain confident of a prolonged relationship.
However, the cancellation of another show – the sixth in Dublin since 2016 – and the public nature in which promoter Jay Byrne has addressed it, suggests the much rued ‘Bernard Dunne era’ seems as far away as ever.
Additionally, mooted Katie Taylor homecoming at the 3Arena in April was taken off the table indefinitely, with the WBA-IBF lightweight world champion’s manager Brian Peters revealing that “advised” by the “powers that be” that the “climate is not conducive” to a fight night in Dublin.
BUI Celtic welterweight champion Byrne alleges that Boxing Union of Ireland costs forced him to pull the plug on the proposed July 7th ‘The Beginning’ card and has since suggested that Dublin boxing is “on its knees”.
Byrne called for all the promoters to come together to try and renegotiate costs with the Irish governing body. The suggestion is that reduced costs would mean promoters could run shows without massive losses thus leading to more cards and more bouts for fighters.
However, Jamie Conlan has another solution, suggesting that management and promotional outfit Mack The Knife Global could play a part in bringing big time boxing back to Ireland.
To what degree the ever-growing outfit could improve the situation wasn’t explained but the recent world title challenger, who is a Professional Development Coordinator for MTK, believes they could be of assistance.
Conlan sympathised with the fighters that had their bouts cancelled last minute and lamented the situation Irish boxing outside Belfast finds itself in at present.
Describing the Dublin scene, Conlan told IFL TV that “it’s very sad for everyone. No one is winning out of this, the media, the journalists, no one’s winning, it’s not doing anyone any good.”
“I think MTK will be able to help, they really should.”
“I think they should, first and foremost, sit down with Jay [Byrne] and other Irish promoters and work together to see if everyone can achieve more, build Irish boxing to where it needs to be – this is the golden age of Irish boxing.”
Conlan was speaking at his brother Mick’s homecoming fight in Belfast and the comments are significant.
While they have a number of fighters from the Republic of Ireland on their books, MTK Global no longer operate in the 26 counties.
The outfit ran two shows in Ireland in 2015 but saw two bills cancelled in February 2016. Since then, no MTK-managed fighter has boxed in the Republic of Ireland.
At the start of this year, six MTK fighters were due to box on two Dublin events. Alfredo Meli was one of the original eight fighters in the middleweight Ireland’s Last Man Standing in March while Luke Keeler, Gary Cully, Stephen Carroll [who has since left MTK], Sean Creagh, and Davey Oliver Joyce were to box on an SK Promotions bill at the Citywest Hotel in February.
This CityWest show, however, was cancelled by the venue on the day before and the following week MTK announced their exit from the Republic of Ireland scene.
Blaming “widespread media propaganda”, the outfit stated that they had “no choice but for MTK Global to pull out of the Republic of Ireland for the immediate future. We will not host fight nights in Dublin nor will any MTK Global athletes fight on a Dublin card,” while also confirming that they would no longer look to sign fighters from the South.
This pull-out also saw a controversial blanket boycott on media outlets from the Republic of Ireland, with fighters being instructed not to talk to Irish journalists in a professional capacity while Irish media are no longer accredited for MTK shows or Queensberry shows in Belfast.
While acknowledging that the move was harmful to the Republic Irish boxers already signed to MTK, CEO Sandra Vaughan argued that a relaxation of the measure would only come if Irish media outlets changed how they reported on the company.
In March the Scottish businesswoman claimed that it is a goal of hers to bring televised boxing back to the Republic of Ireland but stated that “it’s down to the media and it’s down to how they handle the legal situation we’re going to be embroiled in over the next however long that takes… it’s how they respond to that. It needs to stop.”
The company has strong links to Ireland. In Belfast they have promoted four shows at The Devenish as well as being closely tied to the six Queensberry cards in the city since 2016.
For Conlan, he wants this sort MTK presence south of the border.
“I am patriotic so that is why I am saying it, as an Irish boxing fan.”
“MTK is a global brand, we went to Kazakhstan, we went to Uzbekistan, we got the Olympic gold medallist, we’re growing no matter what – but for me to go back to Ireland and speak with Jay Byrne, speak with other promoters, to think about how we can better Irish boxing I think it would be fantastic.”
“This fight, Jono [Carroll] and Deco [Geraghty], this should be topping the bill at the National Stadium. This should be every fan’s dream to come to, in Dublin. This is Dublin’s two biggest stars fighting, in Belfast and not in their home city.”
Conlan’s comments are of extreme interest, and suggest that MTK Global, at the very least, are entertaining the idea of ending their self-imposed exile from the Republic of Ireland.
While Conlan was speaking in a personal capacity, MTK Global had earlier this week sent out a Tweet in support of Byrne – who fought on an MTK show in Scotland in May and is due to box on another in September.
Everybody get behind & support @JayByrneKO @MTKGlobal are always ready & willing to talk about anything that can improve Irish boxing & hope everyone else in the world of boxing will get involved & support too #ReadyToTalk https://t.co/kASYCsk9tJ
— MTK Global 🌍 (@MTKGlobal) June 30, 2018
MTK Global recently announced a 12-card deal with BoxNation TV and currently boast 17 fighters from the Republic of Ireland along with 20 from Northern Ireland. The outfit, which is now based in Dubai, has operations in numerous countries.
Watch Jamie Conlan’s interview with IFL TV in full below: