What next for Matchroom’s Belfast Boys?

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It was pretty much a perfect night for Irish boxing on Saturday with impressive wins galore on the big Matchroom bill in Belfast.

The Sky cameras returned to the Titanic City to broadcast an electric atmosphere, a world title win, and some impressive performances.

As is almost always the case in boxing, the immediate aftermath of the fights saw questions of ‘what’s next’ for all the boxers involved in the bill.

With Sky looking likely to return to the city towards the end of the year, all the fighters involved at the weekend, and many more, will be vying for a spot on the bill.

With that in mind, Irish-Boxing.com looks at what could be in store for this bunch of Belfast boys.

Tyrone McCullagh
Super Bantamweight
7(4)-0
The Derry boxer had been due to fight Dublin’s Carl McDonald [2(0)-0] before the Jobstown fighter withdrew for family reasons. Both seem up for the fight in the near future. The pair, neither of whom have gone past four, will have enough time in the interim for at least another outing ahead of perhaps a BUI Celtic title fight.

Pádraig McCrory
Super Middleweight
1(0)-0
Still at the prospect stage, there is no rush for the St James’s boxer. Game super middles who have caught our eye in recent times include Spaniard Alejandro Mostazo [2(0)-4(2)] who gave Thomas Finnegan a tough and exciting debut back in February.

Sean Magee
Super Bantamweight
1(1)-0
Another in no real rush is North Belfast’s Magee. A fight which springs to mind, although may be a bit early, would be Spanish-based Nicaraguan Johnson Tellez [9(6)-34(12)-5], who went four with Allan Phelan back in February.

Matt Wilton & Paddy Gallagher
Welterweights
16(3)-0 & 11(7)-3(0)
A fight between the two would seem to make sense, however the domestic scene looks set for an upheaval in the near future. British champion Bradley Skeete defends his belt for a third time next month against Dale Evans and should he, as expected, win, he will vacate having won the belt outright. A mooted final eliminator between Irish-born English champion John O’Donnell and Johnny Garton could then be upgraded to a title fight, leaving the English belt vacant and paving the way for the English-born Belfast boxer Wilton to challenge for it.

Gallagher on the other hand holds the BBBoC Celtic title and wants to move into British title contention. An eliminator with preferred option Frankie Gavin was dismissed by the Brummie so perhaps a title defence against Scotsman John Thain [16(1)-3(0)], a recent British title challenger and an MTK stablemate of Gallagher, could make sense.

Feargal McCrory
Super Featherweight
6(3)-0
The Coalisland pressure fighter impressed Eddie Hearn with a win over a recent Area champion. A fight which appeals, although would be a massive jump in class, would be Scottish Area champ and former Celtic and British title challenger Ronnie Clark [19(10)-4(1)-2]. The Belfast-based Dundee boxer is managed by Mark Dunlop, Eddie Hearn’s man on the ground in the Titanic City and a BBBoC Celtic title fight could be a runner – or even a BBBoC Northern Ireland Area title considering Clark’s links to Belfast.

Luke Watkins
Cruiserweight
11(7)-0
The Swindon-Wexford puncher announced himself to Irish fans with a stunning knockout of Ian Tims to win the Irish title. Everyone now wants to see a defence against mandatory challenger Tommy McCarthy [9(5)-1(0)] on the next show – although the Lenadoon big man, who has not fought since his British title final eliminator loss to Matty Askin last November, will most likely need a warm-up fight first

James Tennyson
Super Featherweight
19(15)-2(2)
‘The Assassin’ scored his second successive TV stoppage win, bludgeoning Ryan Doyle into a sixth round corner withdrawal. The Belfast 23 year old will be a keen observer of the British and Commonwealth title fight between Anto Cacace [15(7)-0] and Martin J Ward [17(8)-0-2] next month. With Cacace also hailing from Belfast, and Ward signed to Matchroom, a fight with the winner, whoever it may be, seems a logical next move and has already been mentioned by Hearn.

Ryan Doyle
Super Featherweight
14(8)-2(2)-1
If you didn’t know or weren’t a fan of Ryan Doyle beforehand, you are now. The Manchester-Dub made a huge impression, hurting Tennyson in the third and showing off his exciting high-tempo style. He will need time to recover from a hand injury sustained in the bout. A rematch with Tennyson appeals, but down the line. Hearn has already promised him a spot on Manchester cards in the future, while an Irish title fight in Dublin with Eric Donovan [4(3)-0] is also a possibility – although Doyle would have to fulfill the BUI’s new eligibility criteria (i.e. hold an Irish licence for six months).

Paul Hyland Jr
Lightweight
16(6)-0
A massive break-out performance from fan-favourite ‘Hylo’ saw him sensationally stop Adam Dingsdale in the first. The domestic scene is wide open at the moment. British champion Robbie Barrett defends against hot prospect Lewis Ritson in September, while Commonwealth champion Masher Dodd doesn’t look likely to fight outside Liverpool where he is an unbelievable draw. A BBBoC Celtic title could make sense, although whether Matchroom would like to pitch him against their fighter Charlie Flynn [8(1)-0-1] remains another story. Perhaps a fight with former British champion and long-time Hylo target Scott Cardle [21(7)-1(0)-1] who is of Scottish parentage, for the belt could maybe be made. Admittedly Hyland’s targeting of Cardle was due to his possession of the Lonsdale belt, but the fight still appeals.

Mike Perez
Cruiserweight
22(14)-2(1)-1
The Cork-Cuban is in phenomenal shape and looks set to box on another Matchroom card very soon following a farcical win in Belfast. Former WBA title challenger Youri Kalenga [23(16)-3(1)] has called ‘The Rebel’ out, but is presumably an opponent for a few fights down the line. If a durable journeyman is sought, they could do worse than Lithuanian Remigijus Ziausys [20(10)-77(3)-5] who invariably goes the distance and puts up a good fight.

Ryan Burnett
Bantamweight
17(9)-0
The new IBF champion of the world looks to have two options. The preferred choice for all parties looks to be a unification with WBA champ and former stablemate Zhanat Zhakiyanov [27(8)-1(0)]. If this can’t be made, Burnett will be forced to defend against dangerous mandatory challenger Emmanuel Rodriguez [16(11)-0] of Puerto Rico.

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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: [email protected]