Opponent Analysis – ‘Battle of Belfast’

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Big time boxing continues in Belfast tomorrow night with the BoxNation ‘Battle of Belfast‘ bill.

Queensberry Promotions return to the Waterfront Hall in the Titanic for another card following their hugely entertaining in March.

A smaller show this time round, however again it features three competitive fights at the top of the card.

Top of the bill sees Paddy Barnes [2(0)-0] finally given a tough test. After two wins against journeymen, the Belfast flyweight is now faced with an opponent coming to win as he takes on Romanian Silvio Olteanu [16(7)-11(2)-1] for the WBO European flyweight title. The Madrid-based 39 year old was beaten by Daiki Kameda in Japan on a close split decision for the WBA world title in 2010 and has twice held the European title proper. He stepped up to super fly in 2015 and was stopped by Paul Butler and most recently was beaten on a majority decision by Italian Mohammed Obbadi for the EU title. A ten-round test and a massive step up for Barnes who has never been beyond six rounds. The Cliftonville man is expecting to be brought in deeper waters and we will soon find out if he can swim.

34 year old Dublin lightweight Stephen Ormond [23(14)-3(1)] is in a make-or-break clash as he looks to reclaim the WBO European title. Welsh southpaw Craig Evans [16(3)-1(0)-2] is fresh off the back of a high-profile trilogy with Tom Stalker and is being built up by Frank Warren as a potential defence for WBO champion Terry Flanagan – and Ormond, who comes into the fight in great shape and full of confidence, will be looking to upset the applecart. The two fighters can not be separated by the bookies and most believe the fight is a guaranteed war.

The spiciest fight of the night is a battle of the undefeated southpaws, with Dunshaughlin’s Jono Carroll [13(1)-0] going up against Liverpudlian Johnny Quigley [14(3)-0] for the IBF East/West Europe super featherweight title. A return to big fights for Prizefighter winner Carroll, he is presented with an exceedingly awkward foe in the former underage amateur star. It may be a messy fight but it is a hugely competitive and intriguing match-up.

Rio Olympian Davey Oliver Joyce makes his debut on the bill, and has been handed a strong first fight. The Mullingar lightweight has been matched with Hungarian light welter Gabor Kovacs [26(5)-9(5)-1]. Only 20, the rangey southpaw’s record has been quite padded by gym fights in his home country – although recently he has gone on a good winning run in more competitive Hungarian affairs. Back in 2015 he was stopped in the third round by light middleweight world title challenger Predrag Radosevic. Size alone makes it a decent debut fight, and the youngster certainly looks to be an above average Hungarian.

Following two successive wins against undefeated Irish rivals, Belfast light welter Tyrone McKenna [13(5)-0-1] was left without a domestic dance partner for this bill and now faces Romanian Ferenc Katona [8(4)-6(3)-1]. Formerly a middleweight, where he was stopped by Darren Cruise, the Central European will have better punch resistance here but it should still be a comfortable win for McKenna.

Belfast welter Lewis Crocker [1(1)-0] takes a quick step up in class against notably game Bulgarian Radoslav Mitev [9(2)-31(13)-1] in a four rounder. Perhaps a familiar fighter to Irish fans, Mitev has been stopped by Phil Sutcliffe and Anto Upton, but has given Crank Whitehouse and Finbarr Eade scares, as well as defeating Michael Harvey and Scottish champ Eddie Doyle. A fighter who comes to win, there will be opportunities for Crocker to land big shots of his own, but he wont be able to underestimate the Eastern European.

Steven Ward [3(0)-0] moves up to six rounds on the bill, and the Newtownabbey light heavy faces Hungarian southpaw Istvan Orsos [16(5)-40(12)-2]. The Magyar veteran has gone the distance with the likes of Christopher Rebrasse and Kirk Garvey and offers Ward his toughest home test thus far (The Ulsterman had a tougher fight v Remigijus Ziausys in Coventry in December) and a chance for the Belfast fans to finally see him in full flight.

Following a debut war with Josef Obeslo, Derry middleweight Sean McGlinchey [1(0)-0] has been matched with durable journeyman Dan Blackwell [7(1)-64(1)]. The English boxer, younger brother of former British champion Nick, is known for his durability without using spoiling tactics, although he rarely comes to win. According to trainer Glenn McCrory, McGlinchey has big power, but a stoppage in this four rounder here would be a huge statement.

Also on the bill are two of Warren’s Liverpool starlets. Heavyweight debutant Alex Dickinson takes on Ferenc Zsalek, while light welter Sam Maxwell is in against Angel Emilov.

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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: joneill6@tcd.ie