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Moment of the Year – 2016

There are some times in the boxing world when a moment, however short, comes along, unforgettable moments that will live long in the memory.

This year there have been plenty of these moments.

These moments inspire joy, awe, and most importantly remind us why we are fans of the greatest sport in the World

And the nominees are…

The Jackal Army invade Manchester
Okay, the fight was a bit of a damp squid, with Frampton building an easy unassailable lead to take the win, however fight week in Manchester was special. An estimated 15,000 Irish made the short trip across to make for a special atmosphere, causing plenty of noise at the weigh-in before raising the roof on fight night. The fact that Quigg also brought a sizeable support perhaps even added to the occasion. Rather than total domination by ‘The Jackal Army’ in the Manchester Arena, it was two sets of fans both making huge noise, with aurally apparent swings and one-upsmanship throughout like few other fights.


Jamie Conlan goes to wa – again
The Belfast super flyweight won the Commonwealth title in London, but he also solidified a legacy that will live on for years after he retired. It showed the Junior Granados fight was no fluke or one-off, Conlan has cast-iron balls of steel. After swapping early knockdowns, Nelson downed Conlan in the seventh and seemed to be in control of the bout, only for ‘The Mexican’ to summon a hellacious bodyshot to finish the bout and ensure that an Irish boxing legend was born.

Pauly Upton fights through pain barrier to win Irish title
The eldest Upton brother challenged for the vacant Irish light middleweight belt in April in Northampton, but it looked like he could be in trouble against Terry Maughan early on. Upton hurt his ankle early on but, in an amazing display of pure determination, he fought through the pain and gradually got on top, eventually stopping Maughan after a succession of flurries in the sixth round.

pauly upton

David Oliver Joyce qualifies for the Olympics
The St Michael’s Athy fighter had tried and failed seven times to qualify for the Olympic Games, with his fair share of dubious decisions along the way. He finally got his reward in Samsun this April where Joyce would not be denied by home fighter Volkan Gokcek in their Rio box-off, taking a split decision win and exploding with a level of emotion rarely seen from the quiet Kildare man. Pounding the canvas, roaring, hugging Turkish coaches, Joyce finally reached his goal after over eight years of disappointment.

Frampton rules the world
‘The Jackal’ announced, underlined, and emboldened his credentials as a world class fighter in the New York battle. There is often a sense of worry when fighters go across the Atlantic – have they been overhyped? is the US scene far superior? will they wilt on the big stage? Frampton extinguished these fears early, hurting Santa Cruz (technically knocking him down in the second – although not counted by the referee) and taking most of the early rounds en-route to a competitive points win. Everyone knew Frampton was good beforehand but, after that night in New York, we knew beyond all thought that he was world class.

Paddy Barnes makes bizzare pro debut
Two things stood out on the professional debut of the amateur legend. One – the atmosphere, and Two – the ending. It was a stunning crowd at the Titanic Exhibition Centre in November, with the loudest cheers of the night reserved for Barnes, and a constant chorus of ‘Olé, Olé, Olé’ ringing around the venue. The fight against Stefan Slavchev itself wasn’t anything special, but the bizarre fireman’s lift disqualification win ensured that no one would forget it any time soon.

Katie Taylor’s stunning pro debut
While it was never anticipated that Karina Kopinska would pose much resistance to Taylor, there was still plenty of pressure on the Wicklow super feather going into the prominent bout in London in November. Taylor needed to impress at the Wembley Arena, but the Bray boxer’s pro bow went even better than expected, with a destructive attacking display, stopping the shell-shocked Pole in the third and announcing herself to the uninitiated.

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Joe O'Neill

Reporting on Irish boxing the past five years. Work has appeared on, Boxing News,, and local and national media. Provide live ringside updates, occasional interviews, and special features on the future of Irish boxing. email: