Top 12 Best Irish Boxers of All Time

One of the countries where boxing is considered their staple sport is Ireland. Not only do Irish people find interest in watching the sports with big prize fights, but they also dominate in sports, in general. With that, Ireland is a proud home for some of the most celebrated boxers in the world. 

Here’s the list of the 12 best Irish boxers of all time:

Steve Collins

Steve Collins was tagged as “The Celtic Warrior” and was a holder of the WBO Middleweight and Super Middleweight titles throughout his impressive boxing career.

He won about 26 Irish amateur titles before he became a professional fighter in 1986. Within 2 years of fighting pro, he snatched the Irish Middleweight title against Sam Storey. After that, he had his 17-fight win streak, including a win against the world no. 5 Kevin Watts.

That’s just some of his achievements before he retired in 1997. His career record was 36-3 and 21 knockouts when he retired.

Jimmy McLarnin

Jimmy “Baby Face” McLarnin was a holder of 2 World Welterweight belts. Throughout his hall of fame career, he was able to beat 13 world champions, including Benny Leonard and Barney Ross. Although his family migrated to Canada when he was three years old, was born in County Down, Ireland.

For 5 years, he would knock out popular boxers like Al Singer, Ruby Goldstein, and Sid Terris, successively. That led him to beat Young Corbett III through a first-round KO. He’ll then win one match over his epic trilogy versus Barney Ross. Boxing betting experts at BETANDBEAT.COM told us that “this trilogy did yield an immense amount of bets wagered legally and in underground gambling circles, too”.

Jimmy McLarnin retired from boxing with a record of 55-11-3. Baby Face was also inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.

Rinty Monaghan

John “Rinty” Monaghan is a charismatic sports figure as he would often serenade the crowd with his favorite song “When Irish Eyes are Smiling”. 

He was able to snatch British, Commonwealth, and European Flyweight titles before October 20, 1947. Rinty also won against Dado Marino over 15 rounds and won the NBA World Flyweight Title. He also snatched the undisputed world title when he won against Jackie Patterson through a KO.

John Monaghan retired with a career record of 51-9-6.

Barry McGuigan

Nicknamed as The Clones Cyclone, Barry Mcguigan became the WBA and lineal featherweight world champion. He won against various popular pro boxers like Eusebio Pedrosa and Selvin Bell.

He became a ray of hope when he represented peace and neutrality during Ireland’s tough times, The Troubles

He was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2005. He retired with a professional record of 23-3 and 28 KOs.

Jack Dempsey

Jack “Nonpareil” Dempsey was born in Curran, Ireland but had his professional career in the United States.

Even though he was called Nonpareil for his reputation of being unbeatable, his middleweight champion title was snatched when he was beaten by the legendary Bob Fitzsimmons in 1891.

He died four years later, at the age of 33, due to Tuberculosis, leaving a career record of 51-4-11 and 23 KOs. In 1992, he was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.

Dave McAuley

Dave McAuley was known for his stint as IBF flyweight titleholder.

He failed to snatch the major title with two previous attempts against the WBA Champ, Fidel Bassa. He got it the third time and became a world champion in 1989 against Duke McKenzie.

He was able to defend the title five times before losing against the Colombian Rodolfo Blanco. He then retired after his defeat with a professional record of 18-3-2 and 8 KOs.

Johnny Caldwell

Johnny Caldwell’s professional career began when he won a bronze medal at the 1956 Olympics. He then won world titles in paid ranks.

He first had his flyweight, winning over Frankie Jones in 1960, before moving forward to bantamweight. He also beat Alphonse Halimi and became the world champion. He also won the rematch with the same method before losing against Eder Jofre in 1962.

He retired in 1965 leaving a record of 29-5-1 and 14 KOs.

Tom Sharkey

Tom Sharkey was first a physical brawler which became his door towards the world championship.

While he was born in Dundalk, Ireland, he became a cabin boy until he found himself in NYC. He joined the US Navy and started his pro career while deployed in Hawaii.

He fought against Jim Corbett to a draw then got his world title against Bob Fitzsimmons through a disqualification win.

Freddie Gilroy

Freddie Gilroy started his career by winning a gold medal for Ireland in the 1951 Olympics.

While he only had a very short professional boxing career (which lasted 5 years). During his stint, he won British, Commonwealth, and European titles.

His last fight was with John Caldwell, winning by a KO. It was said to be the greatest fight in Irish boxing history.

Wayne McCullough

Wayne “Pocket Rocket” McCullough was a former WBC Bantamweight World Champion.

He started his early years with an amateur career until he began his pro career in 1993. He won NABF Bantamweight against Javier Median, just less than a year after becoming a pro boxer. He also went to japan and outpointed Yasuei Yakushiji to be hailed as WBC Bantamweight World Champion.

Brian Magee

Brian Magee held various titles in his whole boxing career. He is the reigning European Super Middleweight champion and was a winner of various amateur titles like the Commonwealth and European Amateur Championships. He also represented his country in the 1996 Olympics.

He became a professional boxer in 1999 and snatched the IBO Super Middleweight title via unanimous decision against Neil Linford in 2001. He was able to defend the title 8 times until he lost it to Robin Reid in 2004.

He currently has a career record of 34-4-1.

Eamonn Loughran

Eamonn Loughran was a WBO World Welterweight Champion who hailed from Ballymena, Ireland. He represented his country and won silver in the 1987 World Junior Boxing Championships. He became a pro fighter later that year, with a record of 18-1-1 before he received his first title shot.

He won various titles until he decided to retire with a career record of 26-2-1.


Integral part of the Irish boxing community for over 13 years