Andy Lee v Billy Joe Saunders
For this fight to be made, Andy Lee [34(24)-2(2)] must upset the odds by defeat Peter Quillin in Brooklyn on April 11th in the Limerick man’s first defence of his WBO middleweight crown. Being the underdog should not bother the 2004 Athens Olympian one bit considering the circumstances in which he won the vacant title last December – knocking out legendary Russian amateur Matt Korobov in the sixth round. Currently preparing in Monte Carlo with trainer Adam Booth, Lee is supremely confident ahead of his fight with the former champ and has earmarked a Summer clash in Thomond Park with Saunders should he win. The incentive of a Limerick homecoming (and Ireland-England superfight) should be all the motivation the 30 year old needs next week in New York.
Hertfordshire stylist Saunders [21(11)-0] is the WBO #1 ranked challenger. The Warren-promoted 25 year old has held this mandatory challenger position since last year, however he took step-aside money from Quillin to allow the American face Lee first, and has since rejected a shot at the vacant IBF title – instead wishing to bide his time for an assault on the WBO crown. In his biggest fight to date the (usually) slick southpaw won an ugly split-decision over future Spike O’Sullivan foe, Chris Eubank Jr. In this brawl ‘The Caravan Kid’ tired in the later rounds against his physically stronger opponent, however the crude Eubank Jr. couldn’t finish him. If Saunders was to similarly tire in a fight with Lee, the Castleconnell puncher, with his knock-out power in both hands, would certainly punish him.
Stephen Ormond v Kevin Mitchell
Ormond’s world title chances seemed to be destroyed when he was disqualified for persistent headbutting in his WBO world title eliminator with Terry Flanagan in February. This tenth round disqualification, while correct, does not tell the whole story as Ormond had grown frustrated in the fight due to persistent holding from the Mancunian – holding which many a referee would have penalised. 32 this month, the Clondalkin man had said in the lead-up to his fight with Flanagan that if he lost he would retire, but, considering the circumstances of his defeat, it seems likely that ‘The Rock’ will now reconsider – especially if a world title fight for him can still be made.
A world title shot could come in the form of Londoner Kevin Mitchell [39(29)-2(2)]. The Hearn-promoted 30 year old fights at end of May for the WBC title in a too-close-to-call match-up with Jorge Linares of Venezuela. If ‘Mighty’ were to win, an England-Ireland first defence against Ormond [17(8)-2(0)] would certainly whet the appetite of fans. A fight between the two was previously close to being made back in 2012, however Ormond had to withdraw from negotiations due to burn-out. Now smarting from recent defeat, the relentless Dub would jump at an opportunity for redemption on the biggest stage. By all accounts, ‘The Rock’ had better of Mitchell when the two sparred and it would be exciting to see if Ormond could repeat this if they met in a world title fight.
Patrick Hyland v Josh Warrington
Due to eighteen months of promotional issues and inactivity, Hyland has flown somewhat under the radar in terms of Ireland’s elite level fighters. Last month, ‘The Punisher’ turned in a polished performance when headlining a St. Patrick’s Day show in Madison Square Garden, knocking out Manuel de los Reyes Herrera inside four rounds. At 31, and now fighting under Lou DiBella, the former Irish champ and world title challenger is looking to make up for lost time and get back on the title track. One belt that Hyland [30(14)-1(0)] is targetting is the European title which is currently in the possession of Josh Warrington.
24 year old Warrington [20(4)-0] is currently promoted by Matchroom and there has previously been murmurings of a bout between Hyland and the Leeds man. A busy 2014 saw Warrington defend his British and Commonwealth titles against faded versions of Martin Lindsay and Rendall Munroe before securing the continental belt last October. Now ranked #12 by the WBC, ‘The Leeds Warrior’ is scheduled to fight WBC #15, Denis Tuberion, in a world title eliminator next week. It seems doubtful however, should he win, that Eddie Hearn will throw him in with new WBC champ, and Golden Boy cash cow, Gary Russell Jr. Instead a defence of his European title against Jobstown’s ‘Pajo’ would surely be a better option in the short term. Nevertheless, according to DiBella, Hearn and co. are reluctant to make the fight. Of Warrington, the more experienced Hyland has claimed that he will fight him “anytime, anywhere, and beat him.” If this match-up were to happen it would certainly give the Dubliner a big boost in his quest for another shot at a world title.
Conrad Cummings v Martin Concepcion
Coalisland box-puncher Cummings [6(2)-0] has had a perfect, measured, start to his professional career and is now looking to make an assault on the British title in the near future. Training under Shane McGuigan, ‘Dynamite’ is immensely strong for a middleweight as well as having serious amateur pedigree. The 23 year old Tyrone man is certainly an exciting prospect and a fight against a recognisable English name would help him in his pursuit of a British title.
This recognisable English fighter could come in the form of the gloriously nicknamed Martin ‘The Immaculate’ Concepcion [19(12)-11(8)]. While perhaps a risky fight this early in the Ulsterman’s career, it would somewhat mirror the career development of his training partner, and IBF super bantamweight world champion, Carl Frampton who’s seventh fight saw him take on the dangerous Yuriy Voronin. The 33 year old Leicester puncher has fought for all manner of domestic titles and would be a testing fight for Cummings – however, considering what we have seen of ‘Dynamite’ so far, he would surely pass this test with flying colours.
Sean Turner v Paul Butlin
24 this week, Sean Turner [4(3)-0] is one of the most entertaining and hard-punching fighters on this island. On his professional debut last June, ‘Big Sexy’ shot to internet fame with his first paid punch, stopping Zoltan Elekes with one of the fastest knockouts in boxing history. Three more wins, as well as time spent as a sparring partner for world title contender Tyson Fury, have since followed for the popular Dublin slugger who is now looking to progress his career further. Turner himself wants a shot at former amateur rival Con Sheehan for the Irish title however, with Sheehan fighting out of California and still yet to make his professional debut, it would be best to let such a potentially blockbuster fight simmer for a year or two. While a shot at Eddie Hearn’s Prizefighter seems possible this year, a bout with Paul Butlin would also be a great fight for ‘Big Sexy’ as he looks to climb through the rankings.
Butlin [16(3)-21(9)-1] would provide a real acid test of Turner’s ambitions. The 39 year old Leicester man has mixed it with many up-and-coming heavies including Anthony Joshua, Dereck Chisora (twice), and Lucas Browne. Another trademark knockout win for the charismatic Dubliner, against a recognisable name in Butlin, would be a big statement and would mark Turner out as a real prospect on the European heavyweight scene.