Ireland-England Fights for 2015 (Part 1)
After over a year of verbal sparring, an actual fight between Cork’s Gary ‘Spike’ O’Sullivan and Brighton’s Chris Eubank Jr. finally looks close to being made. Rumours are abound that the Ireland-England fight may now take place this Summer. From Collins-Eubank Snr. to McCullough-Hamed, there has always something special about fights with the so-called ‘old enemy’ and here, in the first of two parts – focusing initially on Belfast fighters, irish-boxing.com takes a look at ten Ireland-England fights for 2015 that would certainly get the pulses racing.
Carl Frampton v Scott Quigg
No discussion of Ireland-England fights could happen without mentioning Frampton-Quigg. A fight over half a decade in the making, this Summer it finally looks close to coming to fruition. Last month, on his terrestrial TV debut with ITV, Frampton wowed a massive audience of nearly 2.5million by defending his IBF super bantamweight world title for the first time with a fifth round KO of highly ranked American challenger, Chris Avalos. The 28 year old Tiger’s Bay puncher [20(14)-0] now has his sights firmly set on defending his title against long-time rival Scott Quigg.
Quigg [30(22)-0-2] is currently recovering from an injured hand and, to his credit, has claimed that he will fight Frampton without the need for a warm-up bout. Shane McGuigan, trainer of Frampton, has questioned Quigg’s boxing background which consists of just twelve amateur bouts and some experience with Thai boxing – which pales in comparison to Frampton’s stellar amateur career. While the 26 year old from Bury holds a three inch height advantage over Frampton, it remains dubious as to whether he can handle Belfast man’s power and pure boxing ability.
Last week, Quigg trainer, Joe Gallagher claimed that Frampton had two weeks to agree to the fight or else it may never be made. The Jackal has responded to this far-fetched threat with ridicule. While venue and purse splits both seem to be easily agreed, the issue of whether the fight is shown on terrestrial TV or pay-per-view looks to be the real stumbling block. The general consensus is that PPV would make both boxers more money in the short term, however – if the fight were shown on terrestrial TV, the winner would go on to super-stardom and make much more financially in the long term. The insistence of Eddie Hearn [Quigg’s promoter] on having the bout on PPV speaks volumes about his confidence in fighter’s ability to win the match-up.
Jamie Conlan v Paul Butler
A fight that was close to being made last Autumn would now be perfect for 2015. Belfast’s WBO European champion Conlan [13(8)-0] was initially pencilled in to fight former IBF bantamweight champion Butler [17(8)-1(1)] in a WBO world title eliminator last year – understandably however, the Liverpudlian fighter opted to take the opportunity of challenging IBF super flyweight champion Zolani Tete of South Africa. Tete would knock Butler out in the eight round of an exciting contest in Liverpool earlier this month. ‘The Baby Faced Assassin’ is now looking to bounce back quickly and a fight against Conlan, perhaps as a world title eliminator, has already been mooted by Butler’s trainer, Anthony Farnell.
Jamie ‘The Mexican’ Conlan, now fighting out of Macklin’s Gym Marbella having amicably parted ways with John Breen, is looking to secure big fights after a somewhat frustrating stop-start career due to injuries, promotional issues and lack of opponents. At 28 years old, Conlan, who is older brother to 2012 Olympic bronze medallist Michael, is finally starting to see his career crank into action – and a bout with the Butler is the perfect next step.
While there is much respect between the two, the charismatic Conlan is confident of winning. Similarly, the 26 year old Butler has claimed that he is a “couple of levels above Jamie.” The pair have fought previously in the amateur game with Butler coming out on top and, if the fight were made, Conan would likely be the underdog. That said, ‘The Mexican’ has improved exponentially throughout his career and, now with his ducks all seemingly in a row, he would stand a great chance of causing an upset.
Anto Cacace v Liam Walsh
It has long been known that Anthony Cacace [11(4)-0] has astounding potential. The mercurial talent turned heads in 2012 with a first round knockout of Mickey Coveney to win the Irish Title in what was just his fifth fight. Now since hooking up with Cyclone Promotions, ‘The Apache’ has added the dedication and professional set-up that will take his career to the next level. At 5’10”, Cacace is big for his weight class, technically skilled, and possesses power and strength that belies his low knock-out ratio. At 26 years old it is now time for the Belfast man to start looking towards British and Commonwealth titles – both of which are currently held by Liam Smith.
Of Irish heritage, Walsh [18(12)-0] would, by far, constitute the biggest test of Cacace’s career. In addition to his titles, the powerful southpaw is ranked #6 by the WBO and #13 by the IBF. The 28 year old is currently due to face mandatory challenger Troy James but a bout with ‘The Apache’ could occur later in the year. Despite Walsh’s rankings and reputation, Cacace’s trainer, Shane McGuigan, has “no doubt” that his fighter could handle the Norfolk-based stylist – or any other British super featherweight for that matter.
A sub-editors dream, Walsh has one of boxing’s odder nicknames, going by the ring moniker of ‘Destiny’. In this vein, a title-claiming win for Cacace would certainly set one of Ireland’s most talented stars along the road to fulfilling his own destiny.
Ryan Burnett v Jason Cunningham
One of the hottest prospects in Irish boxing, 2015 looks to be the year that Ryan Burnett [7(6)-0] will establish himself as a top level contender. Fast, strong, smart, and skilled, the 22 year old is the full package and is Belfast’s heir apparent to IBF super bantamweight world champion Carl Frampton. Last month Burnett handled his first real step up in class with ease, blasting out the Ghanaian Isaac Owusu inside two rounds. Now training in Monaco, the talented 118lber fights again this Saturday in London’s York Hall.
Trainer Adam Booth has boldly claimed that the former amateur star and 2010 Youth Olympic gold medallist will be sniffing around the world top 10 by the end of the year. To reach these heights Burnett must aim for domestic titles and a fight against Doncaster’s Jason Cunningham [14(5)-2(0)] should fit the bill perfectly. The 25 year old southpaw fights in May for the vacant Commonwealth crown against Kenya’s Nick Otieno and if, as expected, he comes through this fight, a defence against the Belfast phenom could be made. Such a fight would offer Burnett much exposure and a win against the former English champion would catapult him up the rankings – in line with Booth’s ambitious prediction.
Paddy Gallagher v Johnny Coyle
Perhaps a fight for further down the road, however there is no doubt that Paddy Gallagher would jump at the chance to exert revenge over his Prizefighter conqueror. Last April, Gallagher [7(4)-2(0)] was involved in a freak Prizefighter Welterweights tournament where, as the bookies favourite, the Belfast man reached the final yet was defeated an unprecedented two times. In the climactic bout of the tournament he was dropped two times en-route to being beaten by Essex southpaw Coyle [9(2)-0-1]. ‘The Pat Man’ has acknowledged that his tactics on the night were wrong and he has since implemented changes as he looks to get his career back on track.The 2010 Commonwealth gold medallist has since switched trainers and is now under the tutelage of the experienced John Breen. Now using a more refined style, the 25 year old impressed on the Frampton-Avalos undercard in February winning a controlled four round decision against Nicaraguan brawler, Miguel Aguilar.
22 at the weekend, and another of Irish heritage, Coyle was indeed impressive in his dismantling of Gallagher in Prizefighter, nevertheless a fight with the improved Belfast man would be a different story. A rematch, maybe over six or eight rounds, would allow Gallagher to put to bed a disappointing chapter of his career as he looks to move forward and hit the heights that his undoubted talent has promised.