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Options and Opponents – What’s next for Frampton and Saturday’s undercard fighters?

It was a busy night for Irish boxers in Belfast on Saturday.

10 Irish fighters featured on the big Queensberry bill at the SSE Odyssey Arena, with six appearing live on BT Sport.

The biggest card of the year so far for Irish boxing, the show was topped by Carl Frampton’s WBO interim title fight with Nonito Donaire and had an undercard of all-Irish clashes and top prospects.

Below Irish-Boxing.com take a look at what could be next for the Irish fighters who featured.

Tyrone McCullagh [10(6)-0]
Super Bantamweight
‘White Chocolate’s’ path is clear. The no-fuss third-round stoppage win over Nicaraguan Elvis Guillen means that McCullagh will go on to face Glasgow’s Joe Ham [14(5)-0] over ten rounds for the vacant BBBoC Celtic super bantamweight title on the Mick Conlan homecoming undercard at the Odyssey on June 30th. This bout will also double as a British title eliminator.

Marco McCullough [19(11)-4(3)]
Super Featherweight
The Shankill scrapper saw his all-Ireland clash with Jono Carroll [15(2)-0] scrapped due to a cut suffered by the Dubliner and instead dominated Nicaraguan Arnoldo Solano over six rounds. This fight could be made again for the Conlan homecoming card – or even for the Frampton Windsor Park night in August. Mullingar’s Davey Oliver Joyce claimed after the show on Saturday that he had accepted a fight with McCullough only for the Belfast man to drop out – and this match-up could also be an option.

Steven Ward [7(3)-0]
Light Heavyweight
The popular big-man made championship weight for the first time and easily disposed of Michal Ciach. A BBBoC Celtic title fight was suggested in the aftermath but there is a dearth of Celtic opponents at the weight, however, with Welsh champion Nathan Thorley [10(5)-0] the only real option – and quite a dangerous fight. More realistically we could see a decent step up, perhaps an eight-rounder versus a tough Frenchmen such as Saidou Sall [10(4)-8(5)-2] or Baptiste Castegnaro [8(4)-14(2)], both of whom gave Joshua Buatsi a good run-out.

Lewis Crocker [5(5)-0]
Fighting in a swing bout after the main event, ‘The Croc’ got brought into the third round for the first time before stopping Scott James. The nuclear-fisted 21-year-old needs activity and rounds – and TV time – so spots on both the Conlan and Frampton bills this Summer would be preferable as would bouts against light middleweights like Scott James. Potential durable foes include Spaniard Jorge Vallejo [6(3)-5(0)] and veteran Hungarian Laszlo Fazekas [31(18)-31(3)-1].

David Oliver Joyce [7(6)-0]
Super Featherweight
The Rio Olympian is unlucky in having seen recent fights with Ryan Moorhead and, allegedly, Marco McCullough fall through. He did score a step-up stoppage win over Jordan Ellison on Saturday and it is essential he does not go back down in level. A fight with Scottish champion Jordan McCorry [15(3)-3(1)-1] could be one which appeals.

Anthony Upton [17(6)-2(0)]
Light Welterweight
The youngest of the fighting brothers is keen for a rematch with Tyrone McKenna on the Mick Conlan homecoming card but this seems highly unlikely. One or two fights to rebuild seem in order and perhaps, as he has previously mentioned, a move down to lightweight where, if he can make the weight healthily, he could be a major force.

Tyrone McKenna [16(6)-0-1]
Light Welterweight
Following a third big domestic win on BoxNation/BT Sport, not to mention a tank-testing ten-rounder v Renald Garrido, a fight versus Ohara Davies [16(13)-1(1)] which many may have scoffed at previously now seems a whole lot more likely. Davies would look likely to make his Queensberry debut on the Saunders-Murray bill in London on June 23rd which may prove too soon for McKenna. Alternatively, a rearranged clash with Phil Sutcliffe Jr [14(9)-2(1)] at Windsor Park in August could be just the ticket – or even the Australia-based Darragh Foley [15(8)-2(0)], ranked #6 with the WBA, who has called for the fight.

Conrad Cummings [13(6)-2(0)-1]
The defeat to Luke Keeler will have hurt as will his inability to implement his gameplan or assert his physical strength. Cummings has all the tools but it seems there is something just not clicking. What this is will need to be identified for the Tyrone man to fulfilĀ his potential. He will look to get back on the horse with some quick comeback wins and commentator Barry Jones suggested that a move up to super middle may be in order. Whatever the case may be, some rebuilding and a change, somewhere, is in order.

Luke Keeler [14(5)-2(1)-1]
A career-best win has marked the start of what Keeler calls a new career. The Ballyfermot boxer is a smart man who knows that, should he play his cards right, he could end up an attractive voluntary defence option for stablemate and WBO champion Billy Joe Saunders. Expect Keeler to push for someone in the WBO top 15 to boost his impending ranking, perhaps German Ibrahim Guemues [15(14)-0], a one-time victim of the Spike O’Sullivan call-out.

Carl Frampton [25(14)-1(0)]
Now the WBO interim champion, we have described previously how this seems Frampton’s most likely next route. With promoter Warren’s supposed influence over the organisation, it would seem highly likely that ‘The Jackal’ will be elevated to full champion with champion Oscar Valdez moving up or becoming a champion-in-recess. This would make Frampton’s dream Windsor Park fight a title defence, technically, although the man himself would treat it like a vacant title bout. The next highest rated contenders Mark Magsayo [18(13)-0] and Sakaria Lukas [21(14)-0] will both push for challenger’s slot or it could even someone further down the rankings like recent title challenger Genesis Servania [30(13)-1(0)] who dropped Valdez in their fight last year.


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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