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Paddy Gallagher applies for WBC tournament run by Evander Holyfield

BBBoC Celtic welterweight champion Paddy Gallagher [13(8)-3(0)] has put his name forward for a big money tournament in America this year.

The Belfast fighter has applied for the ‘Jose Sulaiman World Invitational’ – a competition backed by the WBC and promoted by heavyweight legend Evander Holyfield.

Unlike Prizefighter or Ireland’s Last Man Standing, this single-elimination venture will be over a longer, more traditional format.

The tournament will be run over three nights spread over this year, with four quarter-finals on the first card followed by a semi-final double-header and then the big finals night.

The quarters and semis will be fought over ten rounds – with a special eleventh round should cards be level – while the final is over twelve round.

There is substantial prize money at stake, with the winner in line to take home $167,500 (€136,000 / £121,000 approximately).

Each quarter-finalist receives a purse of $15,000, and winners receiving a victory bonus of $7,500.

Semi-finalists net purses of $30,000, with an additional $15,000 for winners. The two finalists will take home $75,000, with another $25,000 then going to the overall winner.

The eligibility of Gallagher for the tournament is unclear. Real Deal state that applications are open to those “who may qualify for a ranking in the top 40 by the WBC.”

Commonwealth Games gold medalist Gallagher is not in the Top 40, however he is ranked with BoxRec above a number of those who are, and his win in Delhi back in 2010 may grant him eligibility under point 6.5(a)(ii) of the WBC Rules and Regulations which state that:

(a) To be eligible to appear in the WBC ratings, a boxer should:
ii. be an Olympic medalist or have won important amateur tournaments.

2017 was a good year for Gallagher who bounced back from his British title eliminator loss to claim two knockout wins over Scottish opponents, Craig Kelly and Gary Murray – defending his Celtic title in the latter – and staying sharp last month versus Miguel Aguilar.

The tournament plans to innovate, with a number of changes to the norm.

These include the use of five judges rather than the standard three. One of these judges will be off-site, watching the fight without sound on a TV monitor. There will also be open scoring, with the scores of rounds becoming known immediately.

Fans will also be involved, and can have their say on the seedings and the first round match-ups. These online polls will account for 50% of the consideration, with the WBC being the other 50%.

Holyfield, CEO of promotional outfit Real Deal Boxing, said that “the welterweight division is among the hottest divisions in boxing and the WBC is the very best organization in boxing to work with on this unique and fan-friendly event.”

WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman added that “Evander Holyfield and The Real Deal Boxing is making my father’s dream a reality. The Jose Sulaiman World Invitational tournament will lead our sport into a new era as these concepts truly capture the essence of boxing and its global interest. Fighters from around the world will meet to have a sole winner, who will eventually be finding a world title opportunity in the world’s most important boxing entity, the WBC.”


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