What weight next for Ireland’s Last Man Standing?

The inaugural Ireland’s Last Man Standing tournament went down a treat on Saturday night.

Eight middleweight fighters (fighting at a 165lbs catchweight) battled it out in a single-elimination tournament, with Roy Sheahan taking away the €25,000 top prize following a sensational night in which he scored three wins.

The final bell at the National Stadium on Saturday had barely rung before the discussions started on what weight will be featured in the second edition of the competition.

Promoters Red Corner and Assassin now have their model, which was widely appreciated on Saturday, and uptake and interest for Last Man Standing 2 is sure to be greater again.

However, while the pool of Irish pro boxing talent is growing at a scarcely believable rate, we are still small in relation to our neighbours across the sea. With this in mind, it’s not as simple as simply declaring ‘heavyweight next’ for example, and various divisions and potentially interested fighters need to be analysed first before looking at which weight will be next.

Irish-Boxing.com have looked through the classes and come up with three weights where a Last Man Standing tournament could take place.

Welterweight-ish (150lbs catchweight)
The apparent current front-runner, there are plenty of fighters that could be drawn from this weight.

At the top, BUI Celtic welterweight champ Jay Byrne [6(2)-4(1)] has stated that he would prefer to await the winner of such a tournament for an Irish title fight, but there are still numerous contenders.

Rohan Daté [4(3)-0] intends to move down to welter and has the destructive style suited for such a night – and a few knockout bonuses. His fellow Waterford man Dylan Moran [5(3)-0] would be another leading contender.

Boston-based Athlone fighter Paddy Irwin [4(3)-0] was keen to compete at the weekend, however a 150lbs edition would suit his size much better. Also in Boston, Michael McLaughlin Owen [12(5)-2(0)-1] would surely be up for a return to Ireland.

Among the youngsters, Keane McMahon [2(0)-0] and James Cahill [2(0)-0] both could fancy an essentially risk-free early-career jaunt

Looking at the more experienced fighters, veteran Dean Byrne [18(6)-6(2)-2] could be enticed by the big prize fund, as could Matthew Wilton [16(3)-0] for whom it would be the perfect platform to kickstart his career. After seeing his British title journey stalled, John O’Donnell [32(11)-2(1)] may be keen for a high-profile return home

There could be amateurs too looking to make an instant impression on the pros like Roy Sheahan. These include another four-time Senior champion in Dean Walsh.

Light Welterweight – 140lbs
World-ranked, it is hard to imagine that Darragh Foley [14(9)-2(0)] will fancy the long trip home from Sydney, but the lure of $40,000 may catch his eye. On the other side of the world, New York-based duo Noely Murphy [12(2)-1(0)] and Larry Fryers [5(2)-0] are two who certainly seem like strong contenders.

Still overseas, but much closer to home, Glasgow-based Shaun McShane [7(0)-4(0)-1] recently scored a career-best win. The Donegal man has spoken of his desire to fight in Ireland but always noted how he didn’t know where the opportunity would come from.

Alio Wilton’s stable has numerous contenders. Tony Nellins [3(0)-0-1] would be more than perfect for the format while wouldn’t it be great to see either of journeyman Jamesy Gorman [8(3)-47(5)-1] or Alec Bazza [0-32(4)-2] given the chance to go for glory and big money.

Out of the ring over a year, if Jake Hanney [5(4)-1(1)] can get in a proper camp he would be a real threat in such a tournament.

Victor Rabei [4(1)-0], Martin Quinn [2(1)-0], and Niall O’Connor [2(1)-0] may all see their long-term futures at lightweight but could take an early-career punt here, while the returning Dan McShane [10(3)-1(1)] is a character that would light up any tournament.

Super Featherweight – 130lbs
Another weight packed with fighters and in terms of marquee names, both Anto Cacace [15(7)-1(0)] and John Joe Nevin [9(4)-0] may be enticed in. Two phenomenally talented fighters, both have been unfortunate in the pros, and a profile-boosting win on Irish terrestrial television could help reinvigorate their careers and their bank balances.

Feargal McCrory [8(3)-0] too is another semi-established name, and the Tyrone boxer has the perfect style for the format. Ciaran McVarnock [9(3)-0-1] also has a good style for it and would be an option once he returns from his trip to light welterweight where he faces Welshman Gavin Gwynne in Cardiff on April 14th.

Speaking of suited styles, Allan Phelan [9(6)-3(1)-1] has the punch for the tournament and would be a great addition. Newtownards stylist Stevie Quinn Jr [9(2)-2(0)] is a bit different, but looked very impressive in his comeback fight and couldn’t be written off here.

Colin O’Donovan [1(1)-1(1)-1] and Stephen McAfee [2(2)-0-1] rematch for the BUI Celtic 130lbs belt on March 24th, and the winner could hypothetically wait for the winner of a super featherweight Last Man Standing for an Irish title fight. The loser could even enter the competition itself.

‘Fight anyone’ Belfast boxers Mark Morris [3(1)-2(2)] and Sean Higginson [1(0)-0] would both surely have their names in the hat straight away, as would Dublin warrior Karl Kelly [1(0)-1(0)]

Youngsters Liam Gaynor [2(0)-0] and Mathew Fitzsimons [3(2)-0] may want to go for it, and perhaps Aiden Metcalfe [1(0)-0] too who soon will return from injury.

Which weight would you like to see a Last Man Standing competition at next?

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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