State of Play – The Irish Domestic Welterweight Division


One of the most exciting domestic divisions, the 147lbs welterweight class is on fire in Ireland and we can expect some big fights soon.

Packed full of prospects, the division has been simmering for months and looks set to boil over across the next run of shows as fighters reach title level and look to make statements.

Over the last few weeks there has been a lot of talk from a lot of personalities and Irish-Boxing.com below look to try bring everything together and give fans, and potentially even fighters, a clearer picture.

At the top of the tree, and largely out of the domestic picture, is Belfast’s Paddy Gallagher [14(9)-4(0)]. The Lenadoon character has set his stall out, he wants the winner of Johnny Garton and Gary Corcoran’s October 20th British title fight.

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Then there are a number of other fighters who are, in a way, outside of the current domestic squabbling which is largely confined to the Dublin/Republic of Ireland scene. These include top prospects Lewis Crocker [7(6)-0] up in Belfast, Monaghan’s Aaron McKenna [4(3)-0] over in America, and Cork’s Danny Keating [3(3)-0] based in Australia.

The real meaty stuff starts with the BUI Celtic title which is currently held by Loughlinstown’s Jay Byrne [7(2)-6(2)] who scored an upset stoppage win over Crank Whitehouse last December.

Byrne, who was defeated by Gallagher in a light middleweight BUI Celtic title fight last weekend, has long spoken of his desire to fight for the Irish welterweight title and stepped up to face Craig O’Brien for the 154lbs equivalent back in March.

Holding on to the belt, to the frustration of some, Byrne has wanted assurances that he will be guaranteed the winner in an Irish title fight should he step aside – with Keane McMahon [4(1)-0] v John Joyce [7(4)-0] being the most frequently suggested Celtic title match-up.

Neither of these pair have fought in an eight rounder and are therefore ineligible currently to be the Irish title opponent Byrne craves. ‘The Negotiator’ takes a ‘make me an offer’ approach regarding defending the title but the ‘step-aside and allow the creation of an Irish title opponent’ option has always looked to be the most desirable and likely route.

That is until yesterday when the Boxing Union of Ireland sanctioned a BUI Celtic defence for Byrne versus McMahon.

Just days earlier, McMahon’s management informed Irish-Boxing.com that they wanted to face Joyce next – on the Celtic Clash 7 bill at Good Counsel GAA club on Saturday November 24th. Indeed, manager Dave Murphy claimed that they had offered to stand in and face Joyce on just hours notice on the Assassin ‘Rise Again’ bill which was beset by late opponent uncertainty only to be rebuffed by Team Joyce.

john joyce

‘The Demogorgon’ Joyce ended up facing intended opponent Henrich Herak on Saturday night, stopping the Slovak in the fifth round and the Lucan puncher has distanced himself, temporarily, from the Irish scene as he closes in on a big fight with potential European title ramifications.

READ: John Joyce continues on European title trail

The BUI’s statement yesterday also raises the question of when a Byrne-McMahon title fight would take place – and whether it will ever take place. Byrne is due to box Marc Kerr for the BBBoC Celtic light middleweight title on November 30th in Glasgow while McMahon has been confirmed for ‘Celtic Clash 7’ on November 24th.

Waterford’s Dylan Moran [6(4)-0] is also extremely keen to fight for the BUI Celtic belt and recently suggested that a fight could take place on the soon-to-be-announced Assassin Mayo card in early December.

READ: Dylan Moran calls for challengers

Moran’s fellow Déise man, Rohan Daté [5(4)-0-1], is currently building in England and boxes in Portsmouth on October 27th. This match-up, title or no title, looks to be the perfect headline fight for any future cards at the WIT Arena.

rohandATE

Of course, beyond this bubbling scene, there are other Irish welters who are looking to jump into big fights early. Both Francy Luzoho [1(1)-0] and Martin Wall [1(1)-0] had stunning debut fights at the weekend while Tony Nellins [3(0)-0-1] up North would fight anyone if given the opportunity.

What Next?
The Byrne-McMahon fight seems unlikely in the near future due to the Kerr bout and, with Joyce focusing on another route and Daté being built abroad, there looks to be one perfect scenario.

That is that Byrne vacates his BUI Celtic title and McMahon and Moran fight for the vacant belt – on either Celtic Clash 7 or the Assassin Mayo show – with both agreeing that the winner is duty bound to face Byrne in their next fight.

Will this happen? We’ll see.

Photo Credit: Ricardo Guglielminotti – The Fighting Irish (@ThefIrish)

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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]