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LIVE UPDATES – Close Encounter Card

The Irish super featherweight title is up for grabs in Belfast tonight.

BUI Celtic featherweight champion Colm Murphy and the man he beat to claim that title in November of last year, Liam Gaynor rematch in an intriguing domestic meeting.

On the line this time will be a title James Tennyson is a two time winner of and a strap the like of Anthony Cacace and Mikey Coveney once held.

Also on the card will be Emmet Brennan’s debut, while Owen O’Neill trades leather and welterweight and Gerard Hughes warms up for a potential Feile appearance.

Irish-boxing.com are ringside and will be providing live updates.

(Keep refreshing the page to see live updates)

Gerrard Hughes vs Jake Pollard

Gerrard Hughes warmed up for a ‘big’ Feile Fight Night clash with a solid six-round workout on the Close Encounters opener.

In front of the vocally supportive Padraig McCrory, who tops the Feile bill, the Ballycastle super bantamweight shut out Jake Pollard.

Hughes secured a 60-53 points win to move to 3-0.

The new to-the-scene wee man will now fight at the Falls Park in August with a title fight said to be confirmed this weekend.

The experienced Pollard started aggressively enough, using a busy jab in an attempt to keep the home fighter at bay, he also let the right hand go on occasion. However, once Hughes punished his adventure with a big right hand he began to get on top.

Putting a dent into a fighter who has traveled to all sorts of boxing terrain and survived was always going to prove difficult but Hughes did manage to hurt him to the body.Pollard continued to avoid the stereotypical journeyman approach in the second, Hughes was still on top and still dominating but he was getting a workout.

The Ballycastle fighter started to work the body well in the third finding shots around the Bradford fighter’s guard. It looked like it may pay dividends early in the fourth when Hughes put the pressure on but Pollard got a second wind and was there throwing by the end of the stanza.

The pair stood head to head in the fifth and Hughes needed his work rate to win the round. The Dee Walsh trained fighter showed his fitness in his first-ever sixth round, moving up a gear and hurting Pollard to the body. The pressure applied led to Pollard resorting to dirty tricks to survive and being docked a point.

Owen O’Neill vs Iliyan Markov

Owen O’Neill cemented his status as one of Irish boxing’s best entertainers in the second fight of the night.

The recent BUI Celtic light middleweight champion made a move toward welterweight but it was a case of new weight same old story.

‘Triple O’ put his foot down on the gas from round one and never consulted the break at any stage throughout his fight with Iliyan Markov.

To his credit, the Bulgarian played his part and kept O’Neill honest with some solid work of his own over the six but the Belfast man was more than deserved 58-56 points winner.

After a tame opener the Belfast fighter began to press forward in the second, working behind a high guard and letting shots go.

Such was the pressure Markov had no option but to fight, he let one twos go off the back foot in what was becoming a nice clash of styles.

The Irish Boxing Awards Knockout of the Year winner continued to march forward but with educated pressure in the fourth. There was nice variety to his work and right hand in particular hurt a rarely stopped journeyman.

The solidity of the Bulgarian’s midriff was also tested on a number of occasions in another entertaining round.

The Cliftonville favourite began to reap the reward for the pace he set in the fourth with well-picked shots off the front foot forcing the away fighter to wince.

A big chopping right hand started to land regular in the fifth but Markov was still there – and while his output dropped he two picked a nice shot or two.

O’Neill had to eat a beautiful uppercut early in the last against a fighter who knows his way around the ring but it didn’t stop him coming forward.

Talk on the ground has O’Neill returning to domestic action next.

Emmet Brennan vs Angel Emilov

Emmet Brennan’s eagerly anticipated introduction to the pro ranks was an impressive one.

Fighting for the first time since his fight with Dilshodbek Ruzmetov at the Tokyo Olympics’ the Dubliner shut out Angel Emilov, registering a 60-54 win.

Brennan put in a strong composed assured performance and sprinkled it with moments of class as he secured a debut victory.

The 32-year-old, as expected, dominated throughout and flirted with an early night on occasion – but ended up getting a valuable six rounds against a capable well travelled foe.

Brennan stalked patiently in what was his first competitive round since 2021. The Dubliner quickly figured out the shortest route to genuine success against defensively-minded journeymen isn’t a straight line but around the sides. He whipped short sharp hooks to the midriff as he asserted his dominance without having to move out of first gear.

Emilov tried to slow the front foot pressure of the Dublin Docklands graduate by flicking out a jab early in the second but opened the door to the overhand right in the process, which the Olympian landed on a number of occasions. Twice it questioned the knees of the away corner man but they both passed the test and he was on steady enough legs going back to the corner.

Brennan looked to box in the third, trying to pick the perfect shot, presumably searching for an eye-catching stoppage. His skill set was obvious and the approach allowed him to taste some leather but again it was the bodywork and the right that looked the best route to an early night.

The former amateur standout found a range he liked in the fourth and fired crisp one-twos to a degree of success. The straight right to the body was also troubling the survival specialist.

An issue with the tape on the glove gave the 32-year-old some added little pro experience for free. He then came out sharp and started to increase the volume in the fifth. Emilov responded with some shots of his own but Brennan was now enjoying himself and one left hook in particular he landed brought a smile to his face.

To his credit, the Bulgarian had enough about him to not only survive but prevent the Dub from going all out for the stoppage.

As if to warn the Irish fighter from going all out for the finish in the last, Emilov came out firing at the start of the sixth. A neat left hook from Brennan tamed him somewhat but he was getting value for his money and a much-needed workout.

Colm Murphy – Liam Gaynor Irish Super Featherweight Title Fight

Not the kind of early night Colm Murphy had in mind but that won’t detract fro the fact he is the new Irish super featherweight champion.

A clash of heads and a huge cut over the eye of the ‘Posh Boy’ prompted the doctor to stop the fight just seconds into the sixth round of his Irish title fight with Liam Gaynor.

The Belfast fighter had been delivering on his promise to produce an improved performance in the rematch and had looked dangerous from the start to premature finish.

He dropped the Dubliner in the second round with a well-timed right, just moments after he got cut. He continued to hurt the Kilnamanagh kid in the third before Gaynor looked to find passage back into the bout in the fourth.

It was all the Dee Walsh trained fighter in the fifth, as the fighter renowned for his engine began to move through the gears. The sixth was a bloodbath but only because the cut reopened to the extent the doctor had to call it.

With five rounds completed the fight went to the card and Murphy was confirmed 48-46 – 49-45 – 49-45 winner.

Murphy is now the first Irish champion at the weight since James Tennyson and holds a belt once held by Eddie Hyland, IBO world champion Anthony Cacace, who he recently sparred. It’s back to the drawing board for Gaynor who is said to have options and has proven his bounce back ability previously.


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