Boasting an impressive tradition of boxing greats throughout the decades, Ireland has truly shown its strength in the sport. Here are the top five best Irish boxers of all time.
Ireland is known for its prowess across many sporting disciplines, including golf, GAA, rugby, and many more. One such sport in that Ireland has truly excelled on a global level is boxing.
With many championship boxers hailing from the north, south, east, and west of the island, the Emerald Isle has certainly gained a reputation as a world leader in boxing.
So, whether you’re a fan of the sport or are just curious to find out more, read on as we reveal the top five best Irish boxers of all time.
5. Carl Frampton – former world titleholder
Kicking off our list of best Irish boxers is Belfast-born former professional boxer, Carl Frampton. Frampton competed to the highest level in the sport from 2009 to 2021 before announcing his retirement following a loss to Jamel Herring.
Frampton boasted an impressive career under the guidance of his coach, fellow former Irish world championship boxer Barry McGuigan.
After beginning his professional career, Frampton quickly proved successful and gained a reputation for himself as one of the best in the sport. Just five years into his professional career, between 2014 and 2016, he held the WBA (Unified) and IBF super-bantamweight titles.
In 2016, he made history by winning the featherweight world title, which meant he became the first boxer from Northern Ireland to have held world titles in two different weight classes.
4. Steve Collins – an incredible Dublin-born boxer
Steve Collins is another Irish boxer whose name is recognised all over the world. Born in Dublin in 1964, Collins was a two-weight world champion who proved victorious against the likes of Chris Eubanks and Nigel Benn.
Known as the Celtic Warrior, Collins competed for 11 years between 1986 and 1997, during which time he gained a reputation as one of the greatest boxers in the world.
Having never lost a fight as a champion, many recognise Collins as the most successful Irish boxer in recent history. During his incredibly successful career, he held both the WBO middleweight and super-middleweight titles at the same time.
After an impressive 11 year run, Collins retired in 1997, boasting a record of 39 fights, 36 wins, and 21 knockouts. We must say, with only three losses over 11 years, it’s not hard to see why many consider him to be the greatest Irish boxer.
3. Katie Taylor – paving the way for Irish women in boxing
Katie Taylor is an Irish professional boxer hailing from Bray in County Wicklow, one of the most beautiful Irish towns you will ever visit, might we add.
Born in 1986, Taylor has gained nicknames such as ‘The Bray Bomber’ and ‘Simply The Best’ for her sheer, undeniable talent in the sport.
Having only turned professional in 2016, Taylor already has an impressive career under her belt. She is a two-weight world champion and is also the current undisputed lightweight champion, having held the WBA title solidly since 2017.
In 2019, after an impressive victory over Delfine Persoon of Belgium, Taylor became one of only eight boxers of all time (male or female) to hold all four major world titles in boxing at the same time. We think this alone makes Taylor a deserving entry on our list of best Irish boxers of all time.
2. Barry McGuigan – one of the best Irish boxers of all time
As mentioned above, before becoming one of Ireland’s most successful boxing coaches, Barry McGuigan enjoyed an impressive boxing career of his own.
Recognised by many in Ireland as a sign of hope during The Troubles, McGuigan competed professionally in the sport between 1981 and 1989. Hailing from the town of Clones in County Monaghan, McGuigan became known in the industry as ‘The Clones Cyclone’.
During his career, he held the WBA and lineal featherweight titles from 1985 to 1986 and the British and European featherweight titles from 1983 to 1985.
Although he retired from competing professionally in 1989, McGuigan has remained a prominent figure in the sport, going on to promote games and coach many new boxers, such as Carl Frampton.
1. Jimmy ‘Babyface’ McLarnin – a boxing hero of the past
Topping our list of best Irish boxers is an Irish boxing hero of the past, Jimmy ‘Babyface’ McLarnin. Born in Hillsborough, County Down, in 1907, McLarnin is recognised by many as the greatest Irish boxer of all time.
During his career, McLarnin competed in 69 fights, winning 55, with 21 knockouts. He was also a two-time welterweight world champion. Following his retirement, McLarnin was also inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.