Irish title landscape altered dramatically following major rule change

The Irish title.

The perfect belt to headline a small hall or mid-sized show, a great addition to a big TV undercard, a stepping stone to Europe for some boxers, and the career-pinnacle for others.

However, recent drastic changes to the criteria for Irish title fights look likely to vastly reduce the number of potential green belt battles in future.

Irish-Boxing.com have learnt that changes put in place at the start of the month by the Boxing Union of Ireland (BUI) now require Irish title fighters to have held licenses with the BUI for an extended period of time to be allowed fight for the Irish title.

  • Fighters residing Europe must now hold an Irish license for six months before being able to fight for the belt.
  • For fighters residing outside of Europe, the time frame is three months.

This is a change from the previous, more flexible situation where the Boxing Union of Ireland allowed fighters to take out a ‘temporary’ Irish license to partake in title fights. This was seen most recently with Belfast’s James Tennyson, a BBBoC license holder, taking on the BUI-licensed Declan Geraghty for the Irish super featherweight title.

Due to location and otherwise, many Irish boxers (indeed over half of all current pros) currently hold licenses with the likes of the British Boxing Board of Control, U.S. State Athletic Commissions, Australian commissions and more, and would be required to relinquish these for a period of months should they want to challenge for the Irish title.

For many, this would prove undesirable and/or unfeasible in terms of cost, hassle, and career progression.

For example, should a Belfast fighter who holds a British licence, as the vast majority do, want to fight for the Irish title, he must completely halt any progression toward any BBBoC British title for over half a year.

It is understood that Irish title fights authorised and agreed before this ruling will be unaffected – such as the Irish cruiserweight title fight between Dubliner Ian Tims and Swindon-Wexford fighter Ian Watkins.

The news comes during a period where the Irish title seemed to be undergoing a resurgence. The aforementioned high-quality clash of styles between two young fighters in Tennyson and Geraghty won wide plaudits, a similar bout at heavyweight between Sean Turner and Con Sheehan is in the pipeline, and the June 24th Red Corner show in Dublin is topped by two Irish title fights.

However, these change look to have effectively taken a large chunk of Irish fighters, from an already relatively small pool, out of the running for the title.

Joe O’Neill and Gavan Casey speak to Jason Quigley on Episode 5 of The Irish Boxing Show:

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