Earlier this week a massive card topped by the Top Rank starlet was confirmed as part of the 31st annual Féile an Phobail.
The outdoor event in the Falls Park, just a few hundred metres from Conlan’s childhood home, looks to be the biggest Irish bill of 2019.
Full details will be unveiled at a press conference on Tuesday but, until then, Irish-Boxing.com speculates on who will appear on the bill.
The undercard looks likely to draw heavily from Conlan’s managerial stablemates under the Mack The Knife Global banner and, with a number of these, such as Tyrone McKenna and Paddy Gallagher, featuring in big fights on a bill at the Ulster Hall on June 21st, there can be some elimination. Naturally, fighters from Belfast, especially the West of the city, will form a large chunk of the card – although Conlan has said that he wants the city and Ireland as a whole to be represented.
As always, fighters aligned to the parties putting on the bill but not from Belfast or Ireland will no doubt appear. Hopefully, though, in these cases, the ‘away’ corner can be filled by an Irish boxer – no one particularly wants a repeat of the Lewis Benson v Johnny Coyle fight on the last Conlan card in Belfast.
The first fighter to speak openly about fighting on the bill, Derry’s McCullagh [13(6)-0] has already called out recent world champion TJ Doheny [21(15)-0] for a beef-settler. McCullagh had called out the Laois fighter when he held the IBF super bantamweight title, which he lost last month in a unification with Danny Roman, and is still keen on the fight. Doheny dismissed the call-outs at the time and wants to go straight back into world title action – not to mention is promoted by Top Rank rival Eddie Hearn – so this clash probably isn’t the likeliest to happen. However, McCullagh is very likely to be on the ESPN+ show regardless as he is ranked by the WBO and headlined an ESPN+ bill last week. The organisation’s current champion is Emmanuel Navarette – who defends on ESPN next month in a rematch with Isaac Dogboe and building ‘White Chocolate’ makes business sense.
Not a sure thing by any means but Conlan’s managerial, promotional, and gym stablemate could feature. Returning from injury next week, it would certainly suit the schedule of Burnett [19(9)-1(1)] as the Antrim Road bantamweight continues to rebuild while the World Boxing Super Series is ongoing.
One of Conlan’s closest friends, the Cliftonville light flyweight will surely feature. However, don’t expect Barnes [5(1)-2(1)] to box in a major contest, with the double Olympic bronze medallist pledging to take a different approach following his loss to Oscar Mojica in New York back in March. Barnes, who is dropping down in weight, is aiming to build gradually towards a second world title fight and will be boxing in a string of six and eight rounders first.
David Oliver Joyce
Similar to Tyrone McCullagh, the Mullingar featherweight is ranked by the WBO whose current champion is Top Rank’s Oscar Valdez. While a fight between Frampton and Valdez is being built, further building Joyce [10(8)-0] on ESPN+ is logical. Regardless of platforms and positioning, 32-year-old Joyce does not have time on his side and, following his WBO European title win over Stephen Tiffney, can’t fall back into keep-busy bouts.
Padraig McCrory and Sean McComb
The duo, from nearby St James’s and Turf Lodge respectively, both look like certainties should they come through fights on the bill at the Ulster Hall next Friday night unscathed. Indeed, for both, the Falls Park could provide the stage for a first title fight. ‘The Hammer’ McCrory [7(3)-0] is not yet Irish title eligible but could go for the BUI Celtic super middleweight belt if Cork’s Vladimir Belujsky is willing to go to war – although this may be seen by both as an Irish title match-up. Light welter southpaw McComb [6(3)-0] is racing through the ranks and the vacant BBBoC Celtic belt is an option – with managerial stablemate Lewis Benson, a beaten foe of gym-mate Tyrone McKenna, being an attractive option.
While he has not officially retired yet, Conlan [19(11)-1(1)] has been out of the ring since his loss to Jerwin Ancajas back in October 2017 and has taken on a more official role of Professional Development Coordinator with MTK. Wouldn’t it be nice, though, for ‘The Mexican’ to be able to say goodbye properly? Nothing crazy, just a four rounder up at featherweight or whatever for one of the most exciting Irish fighters of modern times as his younger brother readies himself to make the breakthrough to world level.
One of Ireland’s premier prospects, the Sandy Row welter is back in action next week after a brief stall. Having seen a BBBoC Celtic title fight with Martin Harkin fall through in December, the Scot will now box Stuart Burt for the belt at the end of this month and the winner of this bout versus Crocker [7(6)-0] seems to fit.
The Immaculata middleweight made his return to action in March and is currently not listed for either of the upcoming Ulster Hall. Meli [16(5)-0] and his team want a fight with Luke Keeler but there is little chance of this but it would be good to see him get a solid domestic fight. The West Belfast boxer got a good win over Rhys Pagan on the last Féile card in 2016 and something similar here over eight or ten would be perfect for his progression.
While not affiliated to MTK, the winner of the all-West Belfast battle between Joe Fitzpatrick and Stephen Webb would be hopeful of a slot, as will many of the Ulster portion of the Boxing Ireland stable. Queensberry light middle Caoimhin Agyarko [3(1)-0] has been hinting at a Belfast return and this could be it for the Holy Trinity graduate.
Veering into dream territory, Poleglass lightweight James Tennyson [23(19)-3(3)] is positioning himself for a big spot and, while it may be domestic belts he’s looking at first, who would say no to a clash with Top Rank’s Felix Verdejo?
Who do you want to see feature on the Mick Conlan Féile undercard? Let us know on Facebook and Twitter