The John Duddy Fight of the Year – 2016

There have been plenty of great fights this year involving Irish boxers, some real slobberknockers.

Win, lose, or draw, Irish fighters put it all on the line in some glorious match-ups filled with drama, knockdowns, momentum-swings, and some unbelievable atmospheres.

This award is named in honour of Derry’s John Duddy, a boxer loved by many and someone who had more than his fair share of FOTY contenders.

And the nominees are…

Luke Keeler v Tom Doran
It was fast and furious in Liverpool back in April. Keeler, angling for revenge following his Prizefighter loss to the Welsh middleweight, knocked down Doran heavily in the first but was then caught and floored himself as he rushed in looking for the finish. The war restarted in the second stanza and the Dubliner was knocked down heavily again. Bravely rising to his feet, Keeler was sent down again as the towel flew in.

Jamie Conlan v Anthony Nelson
The Irish Gatti won the Commonwealth super flyweight title in April, stopping champion Anthony Nelson with a bodyshot in the eighth round of an astounding fight. Conlan had his man down in the first and hurt in the second and seemed to be in for an easy night. Last year’s winner was then put down himself in the third before roaring back and hurting Nelson badly in the fifth. The South Shields scrapper however came back strongly and downed Conlan in the seventh, and seemed to be in control before the Belfast boxer ended the fight a round later.

Conrad Cummings v Dante Moore
The Tyrone middleweight went to war in New York in a fight that saw Showtime chief Steve Espinoza label Cummings ‘Mr Excitement.’ A hot-tempered clash, Cummings downed his opponent in the sixth after a see-saw battle in which he started the stronger before the crafty American fought back well. Plenty of needle between the pair, there were rules infractions on both sides in an old-fashioned brawl.

conrad cummings

Carl Frampton v Leo Santa Cruz
One of the best world title fights of recent memory, Frampton stepped up to featherweight to face WBA champ Leo Santa Cruz in a high-octane twelve-round battle in New York. The Jackal hurt Santa Cruz in the second and took the majority of the early rounds with his more effective aggression before the high-intensity Mexican-American came back strong down the stretch to set up a grandstand finish, with Frampton taking a majority decision win and setting up a hugely-anticipated rematch.

Eamer Coughlan v Terry McEntee
The young pair shared a breath-taking nine minutes in the Under-18 National Championships final in August. Monaghan’s McEntee, who won European Youth silver this year, is a noted puncher, and the Old School BC teen rocked Coughlan’s head back a few times in a frantic opener. The Cork boxer however was like a steam train, and somehow managed to keep raising an already insanely high tempo as the fight wore on to grab the upper hand and win his second all-Ireland title.


Paul Hyland Jr v Nelson Altamirano
The crowd-pleasing Belfast lightweight was faced with a short-notice replacement for his headline fight at the Europa Hotel in October, and took on a much heavier Nicaraguan foe. Hyland began well, hurting the Central American early and knocking him down in the third. Altamirano would use his strength t o drag the Ulsterman into a war at times , forcing Hyland to fight hard before the home favourite finished extremely strong to the delight of his following.


Feargal McCrory v Ivailo Boyanov
Coalisland lightweight Feargal McCrory had a real test in his third fight, taking on Ivailo Boyanov in a blood and guts battle. Fearless Feargal went to war for the opening two rounds, landing lots and taking some heavy fire back from the game Bulgarian. The Tyrone boxer took control in the third and started to dominate before rounding off the fight with a strong final round.


Phil Sutcliffe Jr v Chris Jenkins
‘Succo’ was given his big opportunity in Belfast in November against the two-time British title challenger and Prrizefighter champion. The Dubliner began well, knocking his opponent down in the first and enjoying some good success in the early rounds with his fresh and heavy shots. Jenkins would however dominate the middle rounds, before a strong finish from a tired-but-determined Sutcliffe, forcing his opponent back constantly, sealed the win.

Paddy Gallagher v Tamuka Mucha
An exhausting fight to watch, Belfast’s Gallagher took on Zimbabwean Mucha in a British welterweight title eliminator at the Wembley Arena last month. The Lenadoon man began well, finding a home for his heavy shots early on. Mucha would adjust well to dominate the middle rounds before an epic ninth round where Galagher poured in everything in search of a stoppage. The tenth then saw a seemingly spent Pat-Man continue to scrap away as the fight went to the cards, with Gallagher losing a competitive decision.

Gerard Whitehouse v Sergio Abad
Crank bolstered his reputation as one of the most fan-friendly fighters around in Dublin last month. The Balbriggan welter took on the come-forward and insanely game Spaniard in a six-round battle which was Fight of the Night on Red Corner Promotions’s debut card. Whitehouse showed equal measures of grit and skill against a relentless foe, boxing well throughout and going toe-to-toe to the delight of his following when necessary.


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Joe O'Neill

Reporting on Irish boxing the past five years. Work has appeared on, Boxing News,, and local and national media. Provide live ringside updates, occasional interviews, and special features on the future of Irish boxing. email: