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The 13th Round: Disaster weekend shows that 2017 can’t come soon enough

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The past weekend wasn’t a good one for Irish fighters.

There were three major losses in England, with Conrad Cummings, Paddy Gallagher, and Tommy McCarthy all falling to points defeats in big fights across the Irish Sea – big fights which should have taken place over here.

Thankfully, none of the trio of fighters should be too adversely affected by their defeats. Cummings, along with most people who watched, would argue that he didn’t lose, Gallagher is too mentally strong to allow a loss hurt him and will be straight back on the horse, while McCarthy is young and talented enough to quickly rebuild and go down an alternate route. However, McCarthy and Gallagher especially, may have been able to pull of big wins had their British title eliminators taken place in Belfast.

Before continuing we should point out that the scorecards would, or at least should, not have been different if the fights had played out identically in Ireland. Yes, Ronny Mittag’s win over Cummings was a head-scratcher, but it was not a case of home-cooking, more so just a bizzare decision.

Instead, these sort of fights should have played out in Ireland so as to provide the extra 1%/5%/10% that comes with fighting at home. Understandably some fights just make sense to take place in the opponent’s home town, however neither Ronny Mittag, Tamuka Mucha, or Matty Askin are opponents of such stature that they necessarily had to be away days.

Optimistically looking ahead however, it looks like home advantage may become a more regular occurrence in 2017.

2016 has been a barren year for Irish cards, with a grand total of six. Next year will hopefully see at least sixteen.

To start us off, Frank Warren’s Queensberry Promotions look set to set up a base in Belfast following their successful show at the Titanic Exhibition Centre. One of Warren’s most well-attended cards of recent years, it bodes well for repeated visits to the Titanic City in 2017. Notably, Warren and Boxnation have linked up with BT Sport, and are planning 30 domestic shows next year (20 simulcast on BT, and 10 exclusive to Boxnation). It is hoped that at least three of these cards will play out in Belfast, including Jamie Conlan’s WBO super flyweight World title eliminator.

Then there is Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing, who after over two years away, looks set to bring the Sky cameras back twice in 2017. Hopefully there a major fight for Ryan Burnett in Belfast in late Spring, while Katie Taylor will fight for World honours in Dublin in late Summer if all goes to plan.

Then there is Barry McGuigan’s Cyclone Promotions. Should Carl Frampton be victorious in his WBA featherweight title rematch with Leo Santa Cruz in Las Vegas in January, ‘The Jackal’s’ dream fight at Windsor Park in the Summer would then be a near-certainty, and it would undoubtedly be the Irish boxing event of the year. However, there could and should be more. Obviously Cyclone Promotions are under no obligations to run shows in Ireland, but at the end of the day they are an Irish promotional company and last year spoke of their plans to promote smaller shows in Belfast in 2016, saying “Belfast is our home.” Worldwide boxing star Carl Frampton will understandably only fight once a year in his home city, but it would be nice to see more regular, smaller, shows from Cyclone to help build the next Carl Framptons.

Our favourite card of 2015 was Pat Magee‘s Féile Fight Night in the Falls Park in Belfast. It would be great to see a repeat of this next August. The loss to Askin should prove to be little more than a speed-bump for Tommy McCarthy, and his focus may now switch to Canadian Commonwealth champ Denton Daley who has already expressed his openness to the fight.

While there is nothing concrete in place yet, it is also hoped that Murphy’s Boxing will finally make their long spoken of debut in Ireland next year.

Moving on to the small and medium circuit next, the scene is looking healthier than ever.

Belfast’s Mark Dunlop, our pick for Irish Promoter of the Year in 2016, already has a card scheduled for February 4th and could have three or more cards throughout the year, with a show in Coalisland also being eyed. MHD Promotions flirted with the idea of the Ulster Hall this year as well, and hopefully this move to the next level takes place in 2017.

Dublin’s Red Corner Promotions are another who look set to run a show in February, and more throughout the year, as they aim to contribute to the redevelopment of a Dublin scene following their well-matched debut effort.

FS Promotions had a tough end to the year and were unable to build on their inaugural card during the Summer, with two cards cancelled due to unfortunate problems with Christina McMahon’s World title fights. Hopefully both Frank Stacey and McMahon continue their efforts in the new year.

Up North, Alio Wilton and Prospect Boxing come back onto the scene this Saturday with a show at the Shorts Sports and Social Club in Belfast. Should the card be a success at the weekend, it would be great to see more regular cards in this mould in 2017.

Then there is Kieran Farrell, former student of John Breen, who is aiming to run his first show in Belfast next October as he looks to expand on the success he is currently having in Manchester.

Mr Boxing-Ireland.com Leonard Gunning also hopes to re-enter the scene next year, and has tentative plans to run a show in Kildare with Eric Donovan and all the best midland talent.

The experienced Tony Davitt did not run any shows in 2016, but a comeback could be on the cards for next year for what would be a welcome return to the Red Cow Hotel, and perhaps even a long-hinted foray into the City North Hotel with Crank Whitehouse.

Finally, Jay Byrne ran a successful first semi-pro show last weekend at the Sallynoggin Inn. Often dismissed as merely white collar, the fighters featured on Saturday were, for the most part, talented amateurs just a notch below the elite level who confess to be not yet ready to take the plunge into professional boxing – but who have little opportunities for fights in the amateur game. Byrne, a graduate of the semi-pro scene himself, plans to run further cards next year and establish himself and his stable before perhaps making the move into professional boxing in 2018.

Of course, it is boxing, and it wont all go to plan, but from top to bottom there seems to be a bit of momentum growing as we roll into the new year which could kickstart the Irish boxing scene. Indeed should shows run frequently next year, Irish boxing fans will be afforded a rare thing – choice. While promoters in Ireland have proved themselves able to work together for the most part over the past few years (and long may it continue!), the sheer numbers of potential shows coming up may create some healthy competition and force promoters (and fighters) to put on bigger fights with better opponents .

It could be a big year.


Integral part of the Irish boxing community for over 13 years