Super Featherweight and Lightweight – Ireland’s Hottest Divisions

By Joe O’Neill

With over a dozen quality fighters in and around the 130-135lb mark, super featherweight and lightweight are some of the most stacked divisions in Irish boxing. Indeed with Sky dipping their toe back into Irish boxing, and the arrival to the scene of MGM Promotions with Boxnation, Irish title fights have now become more financially viable. It would be great to see the prestige of the Irish title revived and hopefully a classic few years, and fights, lie ahead!

Chasing World Titles

At the top of the tree currently is Dublin’s Stephen Ormond. With British boxers, hopefully, beginning to take a stranglehold of the belts at lightweight, ‘The Rock’ will be looking to get a title chance against one of Derry Matthews, Kevin Mitchell or Terry Flanagan. Another Irishman who could benefit from this British invasion of the top tier of the 130lb division is the title-chasing Jamie Kavanagh. ‘The Nuisance’ is currently in talks with Golden Boy Promotions to renew his contract and, with this backing, a world title fight in the future is a possibility. Could we perhaps see a Ormond-Kavanagh eliminator?

Ireland’s Next Great Rivalry

At the more inexperienced end of the scale, Declan Geraghty and Jono Carroll may have just 15 professional fights between them, but an exciting rivalry has developed since their titanic clash last November. Fast-talking Carroll managed to hype the domestic dust-up with ‘Pretty Boy’ Geraghty to extreme levels and, after a third round disqualification victory in what was the BUI 2014 Fight of the Year, ‘King Kong’ Carroll was rewarded with a Prizefighter Lightweights birth. The Celtic Warriors fighter duly won the tournament and was rewarded with a Matchroom Promotions contract – thus showing the potential value of a domestic battle, at any stage in a fighters development.

Geraghty himself wants to avenge his sole professional loss, a fight which he was leading on the referee’s scorecard in, and will take the rematch whenever. Whether Matchroom will want to risk Carroll against Geraghty in just the second fight of a fifteen fight contract is another story. If and when the rematch does occur, another war seems the likeliest outcome.

Dunlop’s Destroyers

Up North, Mark Dunlop has built himself a nice little stable of fighters around the weight. Daniel ‘Insane’ McShane memorably had a spat last year with featherweight prospect Paul Quinn and there are plenty of other boxers around the weight that the boxing barber can target as he chases his dream of an Irish super featherweight title.

Talented lightweight, Paul Hyland Jnr, has had a whirlwind twelve months since turning professional, racking up six straight wins. Hylo has stated that he hopes to fight for the Irish title, last held by Andy Murray, by the end of 2015 and there is no shortage of potential opponents for the Belfast man.

James Fryers is another hot prospect shooting up the rankings and has previously shown no hesitancy in getting into the ring against domestic opposition having stopped Belfast lightweight, Mark Morris, in March. Now down at super feather, Fryersey is looking to build towards a Celtic and/or British title.

Finally, down at featherweight, there is James Tennyson. ‘The Baby-Faced Assassin is in line for a British Featherweight Title shot – although he has stated his willingness to move up in weight in the future. The heavy-handed Celtic champ, and the last man to hold the Irish super featherweight title, has the ability to finish any fighter who steps in the ring with him

The Fight Anyones

Encouragingly, in terms of domestic showdowns, Ferghal McCrory has just turned professional at lightweight and the Belfast man has stated that, from the off, “I’ll never avoid anyone and I will be looking to fight other prospects quite early in my career.”

Another man who has expressed his willingness to get it on with fellow Irish pros is Tallaght puncher Ciaran Bates. The former elite amateur has name-dropped Geraghty, Fryers and Hyland Jnr as potential opponents for an Irish Title – a title he believes is just as hard to win as the European belt, such is the stacked nature of the domestic lightweight scene. Come the end of the year we could have a massive clash on our hands between Bates and the title-targeting Hyland Jnr.

Natural Talent Further Afield

Over in London, talented super featherweight, Anto Cacace, is earning rave reviews at McGuigan’s Gym in Battersea. Cyclone Promotions seem to be targeting a British Title shot for the Belfast man in the near future so a domestic match-up for ‘The Apache’ seems unlikely. However, should he win a British title, a defense against another Irish fighter – perhaps James Fryers – would be the perfect headliner if Cyclone were to run a small hall show again like last June’s ‘Waterfront Brawl.’

Finally there is Ireland’s most decorated amateur boxer ever, John Joe Nevin. Currently signed with GreenBlood boxing in the U.S.A., when the Mullingar man gets his career back on track he has the natural boxing ability that will allow him to be fast tracked through the ranks.

What domestic duels around the weight do you want to see?


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