Who could be on the Emerald Exiles fight card?

With hundreds of thousands of Irish living abroad and millions claiming Irish heritage, it’s a wonder that a big homecoming card has not been thought of before.

Brisbane-based promotional outfit DDP are now making moves to run such a show in Ireland. Promoters Paul Keegan and Danny Dimas have been in Dublin recently and have even met with the National Stadium regarding the logistics of a show.

While it is still in its embryotic state, DDP have noted that co-operation with a local promoter such as Boxing Ireland or JB Promotions would be needed – and have even suggested that a number of all-Irish bouts could be made between local pros and returning Irish fighters.

There are dozens of potential fighters for such a bill and below Irish-Boxing.com go through all of the possibilities.

Ruled out
Before looking at who could be on the card, there are a number of fighters who fit the bill but would be unable to feature.

Both based in Sydney, Cork welterweight Danny Keating [2(2)-0] and Galway light welterweight Gearoid Clancy [9(2)-5(0)] are managed by Mack The Knife Global who have stated that they will no longer look to box their fighters on shows in the Republic of Ireland. The globe-trotting John Hutchinson [12(4)-2(0)-3] is another who will not feature as the middleweight is under the MTK banner.

Pauly Upton [15(3)-0] – who faces Ted Cheeseman next month – has never fought in Ireland and his younger brother Sonny [12(5)-3(1)] has boxed on these shores just once back in 2014. Both, however, are managed by MTK and are also ruled out.

World-rated light welterweight Darragh Foley [15(8)-2(0)] had confirmed his interest in featuring on the card but today has been ruled out after signing with MTK.

Despite being promoted by DDP, Kildare light middle Dennis Hogan [27(7)-1(0)-1] is unlikely to feature as it is his dream for his Irish debut to be a defence of a world title – and he is currently closing in on the WBO belt held by Jaime Munguia.

For obvious reasons then, unified lightweight champ Katie Taylor [9(4)-0] is off the table, while TJ Doheny [19(14)-0] has an IBF super bantamweight title challenge versus Ryosuke Iwasa in Japan on the horizon.

Advance Australia Fair
While DDP are based Down Under and there is a strong handful of Irish fighters in Oz, there are actually quite few that would be in a position to make a trip home.

Crumlin light middleweight Tony Senior [10(7)-0] would be one, and is massively keen having originally intended to feature in the Ireland’s Last Man Standing competition before having to withdraw. There are also potential all-Irish fights here with the likes of champion Craig O’Brien [8(0)-0] or even JB Promotions boss Jay Byrne [7(2)-4(1)].

Another Tony, Clondalkin’s Tony Bates [12(9)-0-1], also made his comeback this year and has also had two fights in 2018. ‘The Irish Psycho’ is another that may be willing to make the trip home and get in the welterweight mix.

Going to fighters of Irish heritage, the fantastically named Gaige Ireland [5(3)-1(1)-2] who won the Australian lightweight title in an upset back in March. While Ray Moylette [9(3)-0] fought in Ireland last year and has a Mayo homecoming mooted for later in the year, he would still fit the bill for this bill and a title fight with the all-action ’12 Gaige’ could appeal

Golden Boys
Keegan and Hogan were over in New York earlier this month to watch the WBO title fight between Munguia and Golden Boy’s then-champion Sadam Ali. Before the fight, talks with Golden Boy boss Eric Gomez took place regarding an ill-fated Ali-Hogan match-up. Also discussed was the possibility of Golden Boy’s trio of Irish fighters featuring on an Emerald Exiles bill and Gomez was interested by the idea – although the National Stadium may be too small.

Cork middleweight Spike O’Sullivan [28(20)-2(1)] – who hasn’t fought in Ireland in almost four years – Donegal middle Jason Quigley [14(11)-0], and Monaghan welter Aaron McKenna [3(2)-0] are all part of Oscar De La Hoya’s stable. Quigley is keen on headlining a homecoming while O’Sullivan is being groomed for a big fight with Canelo Alvarez or Gennady Golovkin – although boxing moves fast. 18-year-old McKenna, however, would seem absolutely perfect for the card – as would his older brother Stevie who is expected to debut soon.

Back from Boston
There are a number of fighters promoted or associated with the Murphys Boxing brand in Boston that would fit a homecoming bill.

Wexford heavyweight Niall Kennedy [11(7)-0] has become a big name in Irish boxing since his last appearance back in November 2016. A potential headliner for the bill, the Gorey Garda is primed for a major fight and would shift a lot of tickets.

Aside from Kennedy there is Donegal welter Michael McLaughlin Owen [12(5)-2(0)-1] who has not fought at home since very early in his career. Someone keen for big fights, he could provide the Irish title opposition that Jay Byrne so desperately craves.

Athlone’s Paddy Irwin [4(3)-0] has lived in Boston for years and the welterweight is extremely keen to fight back at home for the first time – even putting his name forward for the middleweight Last Man Standing competition.

Also in Boston is Tyrone welter Paddy McGee [1(1)-0] recently debuted after relocating Stateside and could be another willing to make a trip home. Then there is lightweight Matt Doherty [8(4)-4(0)-1] who put on a game showing versus Moylette and may fancy fighting his ancestral home where he could provide a stiff test for the winner of the Victor Rabei [4(1)-0] v Karl Kelly [1(0)-1(0)] title bout or even Niall O’Connor [3(2)-0].

The American Dream
Away from Boston, there are a number of other Irish fighters plying their trade in the U.S. of A. Across the border in New York there are light welters Noely Murphy [11(2)-1(0)] and Larry Fryers [7(2)-1(1)]. Both are coming off their first career losses and a chance to start rebuilding closer to home may appeal.

Also in New York is Navan Long Islander Seanie Monaghan [29(17)-1(1)] who recently responded positively to a mooted Irish title fight with Mullingar’s champion Paddy McDonagh [11(0)-2(0)] – who has to get past Bristol-Galwegian David Bailey [6(1)-0] first . A chance to fight in his father’s homeland for the first time would be a major honour for the world-rated Monaghan and promoter Keegan has already expressed his interest in putting the bout on.

Heading further South there is top Derry middleweight prospect Connor Coyle [7(2)-0]. The Florida-based fighter boxes for his first title next month – the NBA belt versus Danny Pastrana on June 16th – and a victorious homecoming could be in order. Also in Florida is another Derry fighter in John Cooley [2(0)-1(1)]. The bantamweight officially retired at the end of last year but the chance to fight in front of his home fans one more time could be the perfect send-off.

Moving across to Philadelphia there is the phenomenally-talented John Joe Nevin [10(4)-0] who fights next month in his second tough eight-rounder. The Mullingar super featherweight last fought in Ireland in November 2014 and it could be time for another visit – and there are plenty of Irish fighters at 130lbs that would be up for a fight, from brawlers like Stephen McAfee [3(2)-0-1] to technicians like Anto Cacace [16(7)-1(0)].

Ruling Britannia
Donegal light welterweight Shaun McShane [8(0)-4(0)] is currently in the best form of his life over in Glasgow and the 37-year-old has always been keen for an Irish debut just lacked the opportunity. The Rosses man is also open to facing another Irish fighter having previously discussed a bout with Shortty Carroll – perhaps the likes of Moylette, Fryers, or Murphy could be enticed?

Ciaran McVarnock [9(3)-0-1] is currently having some time out from the sport but, should the Manchester-trained fighter return, a Dublin date could fit well. An entertaining all-action fighter, a clash with Kildare’s Allan Phelan [9(6)-3(1)-1] would be a guaranteed war.

In the midlands there is Cork light welter Steven Power [1(0)-0] while in London there is Skerries bantamweight Prince Brady [1(0)-0]. Power currently has no fight scheduled while the confident Brady looks likely to return to the ring in September but a bout closer to home may appeal. In Dublin there is Dylan McDonagh [2(1)-0], and the Jobstown dynamo would certainly be up for a domestic duel.

The Wild Geese
There are dozens and dozens of fighters around the globe who claim Irish heritage. Some, such as the three Conway Brothers Matt [12(5)-0], Mike [3(2)-1(0)], and Sean [3(0)-1(0)-1], or Pennsylvania’s Jimmy Kelleher [5(3)-1(1)] would seem unlikely while there are others that could certainly be enticed. In Canada there is light heavyweight Tim Cronin [11(2)-2(1)-1] who could challenge champion McDonagh, and lightweights Josh O’Reilly [12(5)-0] and Cam O’Connell [16(10)-2(1)-1] who could provide big step-ups for Moylette.

Closer to home, in Britain, there are any number of fighters that would fit the bill. A middleweight rematch between Navan’s Chris Blaney [10(3)-1(0)] and Bolton’s Jack Cullen [12(3)-1(1)] is a potential bill-topper while light middleweight Owen Jobburn [4(1)-3(1)-1] would add to any bill.

Then, in London, there is ‘The Marksman’ Aarron Morgan [13(8)-2(2)] – a potential addition to the light middleweight mix and a fight for champion O’Brien. Also around the capital there is Michael Devine [16(5)-5(2)-1] – yet another potential opponent for Moylette – and young light middleweight Dan-Dan Keenan [7(0)-1(0)] who is a massive ticket-seller currently rebuilding from his first loss.

Portsmouth welter Michael McKinson [13(2)-0] hasn’t fought in Ireland in over three years and brings with him a WBC rankings belt which may appeal to Jay Byrne may have his eye on while Manchester feather Ryan Doyle [16(8)-2(2)-1] could be the perfect breakthrough fight for Eric Donovan [7(4)-0].

This is just a snap-shot and there are many, many more such fighters knocking about. Of course, not all the fighters mentioned above could or will feature, but a handful of homecomings mixed with some good domestic bouts could lead to a night to remember.

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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: [email protected]