2015 has been a vintage year for Irish boxing and we decided to celebrate it with the inaugural Irish-Boxing.com Awards.
While we have started out small, we hope to grow these awards into an event. Watch this space.
16 categories, 129 nominees, 10 days of voting, intense debate, and – after thousands of votes – here are your winners!
The Kevin McBride Shock of the Year – Kovacs KOs McCullough
Nobody saw this coming. Belfast featherweight Marco McCullough was sensationally stopped by journeyman Zoltan Kovacs after being caught cold in a keep-busy bout in Germany this Summer. After what was a damaging-looking KO, thankfully McCullough has bounced back brilliantly and is now probably in a better position than he was prior to the shock loss.
The Steve Collins Warrior of the Year – Moses Matovu
He moves like Fred Astair after a few drinks, who else could win the Warrior of the Year other than the Moses Matovu? With fourteen fights in 2015, and a cameo in Game of Thrones, Bangor’s Matovu is Ireland’s busiest pro boxer – but he is not your average journeyman. Always putting on a show and always throwing back, the Ugandan-born cruiserweight is a baptism of fire for any big man. Here’s to a happy, healthy, and busy 2016 for the Black Mamba.
The Fighting Irish Photo of the Year – Carl Frampton Ringwalk
An epic shot – favoured by Ricardo Guglielminotti himself – this photo captures all the atmosphere of a famous Carl Frampton ringwalk. The lights, the adoring fans, and the Belfast legend himself – we can hear Sweet Caroline ringing in our ears.
Show of the Year – ‘New Beginning’
July 4th saw MGM Promotions enter the fray with their debut offering. A hungry Dublin fight community was well-fed with a card that featured the World class talents of Stephen Ormond and Ryan Burnett, a soon-to-be iconic walk-on from Sean ‘Big Sexy’ Turner, and an absolute barnstormer of a main event between Jamie Conlan and Junior Granados.
The Guillermo Rigondeaux Opponent of the Year – Junior Granados
The Yucatan warrior surprised us all in July when he turned out to be a more than game opponent for Jamie Conlan. The Mexican puncher had the Irish Mexican down in the seventh before being defeated on points in a fight for the ages. Cheered loudly at the end, the crowd at the National Stadium certainly appreciated the entertainment that Granados brought.
The Micky Ward Round of the Year – Ger Whitehouse v Radoslav Mitev (Round 2)
Ger Whitehouse further proved this year that small hall does not equal small action. At the Red Cow Moran Hotel the Balbriggan welterweight was involved in an all-out-war with Hungary’s Radoslav Mitev, with the second stanza standing out in particular. Former amateur star Whitehouse was clipped with a big shot and decided to fight fire with fire in a memorable three minutes that had the crowd hoarse from non-stop screaming.
The @paddyb_ireland Social Media Star of the Year – Paddy Barnes
Despite his call to vote for Tyson Fury, Paddy Barnes has been chosen as the winner of the award which bears his name. A man for the craic, the light flyweight star is always a source of entertainment online. However we should mention that the tweet we used to exhibit Barnes’s banter in our nominations was actually a gag stolen from Mick Conlan. Paddy ya divil!
The Barney Eastwood Manager/Promoter of the Year – Tony Davitt
In something of a surprise, Irish fight fans have voted in their droves to credit the old school Dubliner. A man who has helped keep boxing alive in the capital during the barren years, Davitt put on some fine shows in 2015 and with major promoters planning big things next year, his efforts will provide the perfect counterbalance of small hall mayhem.
Comeback of the Year – Ian Tims
After a career-threatening injury, Dublin cruiserweight Ian Tims showed real grit to get back training and was thrown straight back in the deep end with a rematch against long-time rival Michael Sweeney. Showing no ill-effects of last year’s debilitating leg injury, we were treated to vintage Tims as he out fought the Westerner to claim victory. Tough as nails, gym mate Spike O’Sullivan would joke that Bionic Man Timsey would down a bottle of WD40 after every training session.
The Wayne McCullough Performance of the Year – Jono Carroll (v Miguel Gonzalez)
In November Jono Carroll showed that he was ready for big fights in the super featherweight division with a short-notice ten-round win over dangerous Honduran knockout-artist Miguel Gonzalez. Boxing in front of a massive crowd at the ESPRIT Arena in Duesseldorf on the Klitschko-Fury undercard, Carroll showed supreme skill and maturity to comprehensively dismantle the Central American in a dazzling display.
The Paddy Hyland Sr Trainer of the Year – Packie Collins
He is building an empire in Dublin. The Celtic Warriors Gym head honcho has had a fruitful 2015, building his Corduff stable and strengthening links with promotional powerhouses Matchroom and Murphy’s Boxing. Collins has even begun training trainers, and is overlooking the ventures of his understudy, Daniel-san O’Sullivan. Involved in some massive fights in 2015, the Dubliner will be looking for even more over the next twelve months.
The Eamonn Magee Jr Prospect of the Year – Stevie McKenna
It’s been a whirlwind 2015 for the Baby-Faced Assassin. The Monaghan hotshot won gold at the Commonwealth Youth Games in Samoa before claiming silver at the European Youth Championships in Poland. The Old School BC rising star then made his Senior debut at the Stadium in December in the National Elite Final, beating Regan Buckley for what is sure to be the first of many titles.
Fight of the Year – Jamie Conlan v Junior Granados
Some love for the little men. Some queried the choice of Conlan as the first headliner for MGM’s entrance into promoting, however no-one was asking any questions afterwards. The super flyweight war had everything – unbridled passion from the fans, unbelievable guts from Conlan, as well as under-appreciated skill and brains to close out the win – a perfect first headline act for MGM Promotions.
KO of the Year – Lewis Crocker (v Michael Jobson)
The quickest KO in Irish amateur boxing history. Back in September the Holy Trinity star was understandably disappointed at being passed over for the welterweight slot at the Commonwealth Youth Games, but showed true professionalism by getting straight back into the ring for the Totana Box Cup in Spain. Any lingering frustration was taken out on his unfortunate first opponent, England’s Michael Jobson, inside the opening 12 seconds. We hope to see a few more of these in the future.
— Lewis Crocker (@lewiscrocker1) September 13, 2015
Moment of the Year – Dublin crowd lift Jamie Conlan off canvas
An epic moment that will be retold over many a pint in the coming decades. The atmosphere in the National Stadium that magical night in July provided the perfect cocktail, alongside Jamie Conlan’s grit, and it pulled the Belfast man off the canvas for a second time against Junior Granados and allowed the super flyweight to clinch the win and perhaps change the course of Irish boxing.
The Rinty Monaghan Fighter of the Year – Mick Conlan
Mick Conlan’s 2015 will be looked back at in years to come as one of the greatest 12 months in Irish amateur boxing history. European Championships GOLD, World Championships GOLD, fulfilling Olympic Qualifying Criteria TWICE, and crossing over into the mainstream by winning the RTÉ and BBCNI Sports Personality of the Year awards. Now favourite for Olympic gold in Rio, 2015 saw the birth of Ireland’s next superstar.