The one that got away? Could Sheehan vs Turner have been the Irish Dubois vs Joyce?

Even though a fighter named Joe Joyce is one of the participants, there is no direct Irish interest in tonight’s eagerly anticipated British heavyweight title clash.

However, that doesn’t mean there is no interest in the fight from these shores. The meeting of Daniel Dubois and his fellow big punching giant, Joyce, has captured the attention of hardcore fight fans the world over.

Remarkably mid a return to health of the heavyweight scene – and in a division that has names like Anthony Joshua, Tyson Fury, Deontay Wilder, Dillian Whtye and co – the domestic title fight stands up in terms of expectation, anticipation and excitement to any fight that played out at world level this year.

It shows the power of the heavyweight, as well as the pull of a good domestic rivalry. Mix those two ingredients with some tension, jeopardy and a sprinkle of bad blood and you have a promoters dream.

Frank Warren has managed to put on a fight with very little world ramifications, but a domestic dust up that has captured attention of hard core fight fans around the world.

Indeed, it’s a big man bash that has one foot firmly in the trade fight camp, a toe or two in the casual fan interest column and maybe an over grown toe nail in the column drawn for the wider sport fan.

It’s a fight Irish fight fans will watch and enjoy, but one they will be jealous of. What would such a fight do for the Irish scene and domestic boxing on these shores? They can only lament.

To rub salt into a gaping wound there was a fight that had the majority of the discussed key factors that could have been made in recent times.

A heavyweight, heavyweight meeting between Sean Turner and Con Sheehan was muted but never agreed.

The former amateur rivals verbal sparred as they began to make their way in the pro game. The stage looked set for a meeting that, although not anywhere near as big as the Dubois versus Joyce, had the potential to generate interest outside of hardcore boxing circles.

It was being billed as a classic puncher v boxer bout between two rivals with a lot of shared history – and was seen as a fight that could have helped spark interest in the domestic scene around Ireland.

However, it ended up in big disappointment as Big Sexy and Big Con failed to deliver the big man title fight. Irish fight fans were denied their own personal piece of the currently tasty heavyweight pie and the Dubious Joyce experience.

“The better level of opponent the better I am. I don’t think Turner could live with me if I box to my best. If he catches anyone he can do damage, you’ve seen it yourselves, he has serious punch power, but I am a lot fitter and, as I said, I want and I win that fight, ” 6’5′ Clonmel big man Sheehan told Irish-boxing.com back in 2017.

“You know I will fight anyone in Ireland. This is business and I want to win the Irish title. Hopefully this time next year I will be Irish champion and if I have to beat Con to get that belt so be it,” said ‘Big Sexy’ to the site around the same time.

Not only did the pair never trade leather, but both have faded into boxing obscurity in recent years. Turner, 29, hasn’t fought since losing to Nathan Gorman in June of 2018, while Sheehan, who had spells with Virgil Hunter and Peter Fury, hasn’t fought since the summer of 2017.

Dubliner, Turner has talked about fighting again more than once, but personal circumstances suggest any return is unlikely. Sheehan on the other hand has never really discussed a return, despite the booming nature of a division most believe he can be competitive in.

There are two active Irish heavys in Niall Kennedy and Paddy Nevin, but it’s unlikely they will fight to become the first Irish heavyweight champion since Tyson Fury.

The Gorey and Dublin natives are at different stages of their careers so any meeting looks unlikely. As a result the eight year wait for an Irish heavyweight title fight looks likely to continue.

Jonny Stapleton

Irish-boxing.com contributor for 15 years and editor for the past decade. Have been covering boxing for over 16 years and writing about sport for a living for 19 years. Former Assistant Sports editor for the Gazette News Paper Group and former Tallaght Voice Sports Editor. Have had work published in publications around the world when working as a freelance journalist. Also co-founder of Junior Sports Media and Leinster Rugby PRO of the Year winner. email: editoririshboxing@gmail.com