Weekend Preview: June 17th-19th

As the June continues, it’s another it’s another quiet week for Irish pro fighters.

However, there is crucial action in Azerbaijan as Ireland looks to add more boxers on the plane to Rio, as well as plenty of Wild Geese in action overseas.

On Friday night in Canada gym-mates Cam O’Connell and Mike McWilliams top the bill at the Shaw Conference Centre in Edmonton, Alberta. Headlining lightweight O’Connell [10(6)-0-1] takes on former Paul Hyland Jr oppoenent Bence Molnar, while McWilliams [5(2)-0-2] faces Andre Byrd.

Saturday sees the return of the encouragingly active Steve Collins Jr [7(3)-0-1]. The Wolfhound boxes in Maine as he continues his move down to light heavyweight, and he will test himself against the experienced, and potentially dangerous, Jose Humberto Corral.

In Preston on Saturday there is plenty of Irish interest on the MGM show at the Guild Hall. Topping the bill is Galway-Barrow light heavyweight Liam Conroy [9(2)-3(1)-1] who challenges Ferenc Albert for the vacant WBC Youth Silver light heavyweight title. Also featuring is recent light middleweight World title challenger Jimmy Kelly [17(7)-1(1)] who continues his comeback trail against Deividas Sajauka. The Lancashire card also sees run-outs for Northern journeymen Casey Blair [3(0)-10(2)], Alec Bazza [0-15(2)-1], and Ben Mulligan [0-10(0)] who face Nathan Brough, Reece MacMillan, and Jason Sillett.

There is a huge fight in Chicago on Saturday night where New York’s Joe Smith Jr [21(17)-1(1)] looks to shock home favourite Andrzej Fonfara on a Premier Boxing Champion’s card at the UIC Pavillion.

Three hours down the road in Indiannapolis there is also a bout for rising super middleweight Bobby Gunn Jr [8(6)-0] against a to-be-confirmed opponent.

Perhaps most importantly, Saturday sees the start of the AOB World Olympic Qualifier in Baku, Azerbaijan, where Ireland will be looking to add four boxers to their team for Rio. The Irish panel consists of light welter Dean Walsh, middleweight Michael O’Reilly, heavyweight Darren O’Neill, and super heavy Dean Gardiner. Walsh and O’Reilly are tasked with finishing in the top 5 of their weight at the tournament, while O’Neill and Gardiner have the daunting, but do-able, task of needing to win the tournament outright to qualify.

Finally, on Sunday morning in Australia, light middleweight Liam Hutchinson [11(5)-2(0)] headlines in Hamilton against Kolby Johnston.

Photo Credit: Ricardo Guglielminotti – The Fighting Irish (@ThefIrish)

Joe O'Neill

Reporting on Irish boxing the past five years. Work has appeared on irish-boxing.com, Boxing News, the42.ie, and local and national media. Provide live ringside updates, occasional interviews, and special features on the future of Irish boxing. email: joneill6@tcd.ie