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Who should John Hutchinson fight for the Irish 154lbs title?

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The last few days have seen plenty of discussion over a potential Irish title fight on the undercard of the heavily-rumoured Belfast Boxnation show on November 5th.

The card, said to be headlined by the Fight of the Year rematch between Jamie Conlan and Anthony Nelson, has massive potential in terms of professional debuts, Irish homecomings, and an all-Irish clash or two. One such fight is an Irish light middleweight title showdown – one of the island’s more active belts.

One half of the proposed match-up will be MGM’s John Hutchinson [7(1)-2(0)-2] – it is just who he will face that is the question.

The answer to this should be simple, John Hutchinson should fight Pauly Upton [12(2)-0], who won the Irish title in April of this year. However, understandably, neither Hutchinson nor the eldest Upton brother would like to fight each other as they are MGM stablemates.

Both have raised the possibility of Upton vacating the Irish 154lbs belt to allow Hutchinson fight a different foe.

This raises a dangerous precedent, and if Upton is to vacate, he needs to go straight into fights bigger than an Irish title clash with Hutchinson. So-called bigger and better things. If Upton’s immediate plans are to make a step up to EU/European/British level then it is an entirely justifiable move to vacate the Irish belt, and it would further prove the power of the Irish title. However, if Upton is to stay at the same level and step aside to allow Buncrana’s Hutchinson a chance to win the belt, then this could be considered something of a cheapening of the Irish title.

As a quick note, we aren’t accusing Upton of trying to cheapen the title – indeed his emotional win in April is what the Irish title is all about and was one of our highlights of the year – just we would hate to see the Irish title passed about unnecessarily.

EDIT: Pauly Upton has since confirmed his intention to step up from Irish title level in the immediate future and is targetting bigger belts – Read our interview here

So who should Hutchinson fight?
The early front-runner seems to be two-time former foe Gerard Healy [5(0)-4(1)-1]. The Belfast man shares plenty of bad-blood with Hutchinson following a four-round loss he disputes and a technical draw due to an accidental headbutt he feels wasn’t accidental. Boom Boom Healy would be a logical choice considering their history and his hometown.

Another possibility, suggested by Hutchinson himself, is Nottingham-born Terry Maughan [10(0)-6(6)-1] who has twice challenged for the belt before. Stopped by Dee Walsh and Pauly Upton, Maughan is desperate to win the Irish title and has already stated his willingness to fight the Buncrana Banger.

Inishowen’s Michael McLaughlin Owen [12(5)-1(0)-1], while primarily a welterweight, is also an option. The Boston-based fighter is Irish title-hungry and an all-Donegal derby would guarantee the county its first ever professional Irish title. Whether the two TĂ­r Conaill men would want to face off is another story.

A final suggestion, perhaps a bit out of left field, is Dean Byrne [18(6)-6(2)-2]. The well-known Dubliner challenged for the Irish welterweight title last year, being defeated by Peter McDonagh in an entertaining fight. While 154lbs is above the Crumlin man’s fighting weight, ‘Irish Lightning’ would back his immense boxing skills to make the jump up, especially for the Irish title.

Healy has also suggested that the fight play out at middleweight to circumnavigate the potentially sticky issue with Upton, whether this is feasible remains to be seen as the Boxing Union of Ireland have already ordered a 160lbs title fight between Luke Keeler and Darren Cruise.

Whomever Hutchinson faces, an Irish title fight on the televised portion of the Boxnation-aired bill can only be good for the prestige of the belt and the careers of both fighters involved.

Joe O'Neill

Reporting on Irish boxing the past five years. Work has appeared on irish-boxing.com, Boxing News, the42.ie, and local and national media. Provide live ringside updates, occasional interviews, and special features on the future of Irish boxing. email: joneill6@tcd.ie