The Irish Eye: May part 1
May was another jam-packed month in Irish boxing, so we are bringing you a special three-part edition of 'The Irish Eye' to make sure every base is covered... In part one Kane Clarke brings us news of Phil Sutcliffe Jr, Noely Murphy and much more besides...
Dublin's power-punching Phil Sutcliffe Jr ventured into the lion's den on 13 May, when he travelled to the First Direct Arena, Leeds to take on undefeated Yorkshireman Josh Leather for the vacant IBF Intercontinental super-lightweight title, on the undercard of Josh Warrington's defence of his WBC International trinket against former world titlist Kiko Martinez.
Stepping up to 12 rounds for the first time, the 27-year-old Sutcliffe started the brighter, commanding centre of the ring, working his way inside and unloading with power punches inside the clinch. But Leather worked his way back into the round, a straight right hand mid-way through the opener bringing a roar from his supporters which seemed to rejuvenate the Middlesbrough fighter as he began to work off the jab and use his range.
Leather continued to box behind the jab and snappy right hand throughout the second and third, buzzing Sutcliffe towards the end of the third with a lightning fast three-punch combination that forced the Dubliner to look to hold on to see out the last 30 seconds.
Sutcliffe Jr recovered well and switched to southpaw in the fourth. The Crumlin man put Leather under pressure immediately by landing hurtful punches to the body and head, and a right hand in particular forced Leather to cover up on the ropes as Sutcliffe worked his way back into the bout. Meanwhile Leather received a warning from referee Howard Foster for holding.
Sutcliffe Jr started to work the body in the fifth - half-way through the round a thumping right hand from the Irishman shook Leather right down to his boots, but credit to Leather and his chin he took it well and looked to set about getting his own shots in another tight stanza.
Sutcliffe started the sixth beautifully, landing a straight-right, left-hook, right-hook to the body, and kept marching forward putting pressure on the Yorkshireman, forcing him to hold, which again brought another warning from referee Foster.
Midway through the round the tide began to swing back in Leather's favour, as he landed a nice three-punch combination of his own, followed by a right hook that landed high on the temple. Sutcliffe replied when a beautiful right hand of his own, and just as the two men again went to trade, Foster controversially pulled Sutcliffe Jr from the fight, stating he was in no fit state to continue.
The decision was controversial throughout the boxing fraternity, with many people having the scorecards at the time of the stoppage very close, reflecting a bout that was entertaining and shaping up to be a really fascinating clash of styles.
Leather and Sutcliffe both sat down side-by-side to be interviewed by the Boxnation cameras post-fight, with Sutcliffe admitting: "Josh caught me once or twice, I'm not taking anything away [from him], he's the better man on the night, I always put my hands up to the better man on the night.
"I had a good camp, a few injuries, nothing special. Josh really, really performed well tonight, I very [much] underperformed, I had a great camp, no excuses, and congratulations to Josh I'm not taking anything away from him, he had his game plan very right tonight and congratulations again Josh.
"I think the fight was called a little bit early, I know, fair enough I got caught once or twice, his hands are fast. Once or twice it probably hurt, but it never should of been stopped. But congratulations I'll not take anything away from you."
Also on 13 May, Celtic Warriors teammates Spike O'Sullivan and Ray Moylette both travelled to Massachusetts, USA, to fight on a Murphys Boxing promoted card at the Plainridge Park Casino, Plainville.
Cork middleweight 'Spike' was headlining the show in an eight-round contest against American Chauncey Fields, and dispatched his foe after just two rounds, having downed Fields on four occasions, with accurate and calculated attacks to the head and body.
The stoppage win sees O'Sullivan improve his record to 25(17)-2(1), whilst a defeat for Fields saw his record slip to 4(2)-3(2).
On the undercard, County Mayo super-lightweight Ray Moylette continued his upward trajectory in the professional ranks, with a first-round stoppage over win over Mexican-American Oscar Diaz, after the doctor instructed that Diaz shouldn't come out for round two after Moylette had him down in the final ten seconds of the opening stanza.
'Sting Ray' would head 60 miles North and enter the squared-circle again, just one week later on 20 May, this time taking out Bryan Abraham via first-round stoppage after the American failed to answer the bell for the second round - much to the annoyance of Moylette. The 27-year-old Moylette sees his record rise to 4(2)-0 after the two back to back stoppages, while tough journeyman Abraham's record fell to 6(6)-26(15)-2.
Cork welterweight Noel Murphy pushed his unbeaten record to 10(2)-0 on 18 May, with a unanimous decision points victory over L.A native Brian Jones 14(8)-8(1) at the Paramount Theater, Brooklyn, New York.
"10-0! Another great night! Tough fight against an awkward opponent who was playing mind games all night! Great experience to get though, it will all benefit me in the long run," the 22-year-old Lou DiBella-promoted prospect said on social media after his fight
"Once again, thanks to everybody who came out and supported me, the atmosphere was incredible for a Thursday night in Brooklyn. And to everybody at home who are always 100 per cent behind me, without you none of this is possible. And of course a special thanks to my Mam and Dad who made the trip out fro home for the fight. Now it's time to take it to the next level."
Belfast featherweight Marco McCullough put up a brave performance in his quest for the Lonsdale British title on 20 May at the Copperbox Arena, London.
The Shankill Road man was stopped in the eleventh round by an impressive Ryan Walsh after Howard Foster jumped in to call a halt to the contest, a result which saw Walsh win the belt outright.
"Devastated, but I've no excuses, the better man won on the night," a bruised McCullough told IFL TV post-fight.
"I had the perfect training camp, everything went well. All respect to Ryan Walsh, he was the better man on the night."
When asked by Kugan Cassius if that was the Ryan Walsh he expected tonight, he answered: "I honestly thought, the way he started, we expected that. We thought he was going to win the first couple of rounds, and then slow down a bit. I thought from about four on I was taking a couple of rounds, and I thought my size and strength would have got me through the last six but he was nicking rounds here and there so he deserved it.
"I didn't underestimate him, I knew he was good but I thought I had the beating off him, because of my size and my boxing ability, but he surprised me so he did."
When asked what's next for the popular Belfast man he said: "I've still got a couple of years left in me, I'm still only 27, I have to just keep learning and learning, go back and watch what I done wrong and try and progress and hopefully my time comes."