The Irish Eye: February part 1
Part 1 of a jam-packed February edition of Kane Clarke's 'The Irish Eye' takes in the MHD Promotions show at the Europa Hotel among other action...
Mark Dunlop and MHD Promotions returned to the Europa Hotel, Belfast on 3 February with James 'The Assassin' Tennyson [20(16)-2(2)] headlining a six-bout card billed 'Assassin's Creed'.
The hard-hitting WBA International champion - ranked No.4 by the organisation - looked to keep busy with the chance of big fights looming later in the year, and would have been hoping for some rounds as he took on tough Nicaraguan Arnaldo Solano [14(0)-14(2)] - who has extended former world champion Stuart Hall, British champion Jazza Dickens, and Commonwealth champion Gamal Yafai the distance - but came unstuck after just 59 seconds of the opening stanza as the Belfast banger sunk in a left-hook to the body that left Solano sprawled out on the canvas unable to beat the count.
Coalisland super featherweight Feargal McCrory [7(3)-0] was chief-support on the night and faced off against one of the few men to see the final bell against Tennyson - Rafael Castillo [14(6)-40(14)-3] of Nicaragua.
The game journeyman put in a decent shift to go the six-round distance, with the Tyrone southpaw having tasted the canvas from a right hook in the second round. But the 58-55 scorecard in 'Fearless' favour seen the John Breen-trained fighter extend his unbeaten record to 8(3)-0.
Elsewhere on the undercard, there was a return to the ring for Belfast lightweight Daniel 'Insane' McShane [9(3)-1(1)] after a three-year absence from the sport.
Last time out McShane picked up the first loss of his career when he dislocated his shoulder in the second round against Hungarian Zoltan Horvath [3(2)-40(5)-1] but upon his return the Belfast man immediately had the chance to avenge that loss and set the record straight, as he jumped straight back into a rematch with the ultra-durable journeyman in a four-round contest, and took the decision on the referee's scorecard 40-35 as Horvath was deducted a point in the third.
On a night of returns, Ards featherweight Stevie Quinn Jr [8(2)-2(0)] stepped back through the ropes for the first time in just over two years and picked up an impressive victory.
The 25-year-old southpaw took on tricky Nicaraguan Edwin Tellez [12(6)-34(4)-5] over six rounds. Tellez had Europa Hotel previous having been stopped by Derry's Tyrone McCullagh back in 2016, but Quinn Jr would have to settle for a 60-54 points decision victory on this occasion as he outclassed the game journeyman throughout.
Also on the undercard, Dublin lightweight Karl Kelly [1(0)-0] took a massive jump in class in just his second pro bout as he challenged undefeated Englishman Lucas Ballingall [8(3)-0] over six round , giving a good account of himself before falling to a 60-57 defeat.
And finally, Scotland's former British title challenger Ronnie 'The Shark' Clark [19(10)-4(1)-2] went through the motions in a six-round victory over England's Dean Evans [6(4)-17(2)-2] in preparation for his successful challenge against unbeaten Frank Warren prospect Zelfa Barrett last weekend.
Also on 3 February, Dublin light-middleweight Tony Senior [8(6)-0] returned to the ring at the Entertainment Centre, Hurstville, Sydney, in a scheduled four-rounder after a two-year hiatus, and made short work of Kiwi opponent Daniel Maxwell [6(0)-54(12)-2], stopping him in the first round to pick up where he left off and chalk up his ninth straight victory.
On 7 February at the BB King Grill, Manhattan, New York, undefeated Cork welterweight Noely Murphy [12(2)-0] cut down to the 140lbs limit for the first time in his career, and challenged Brooklyn's undefeated Mikkel LesPierre [18(8)-0-1] for the vacant WBC USNBC title over ten-rounds.
The 23-year-old Lou DiBella promoted prospect topped the bill for the first time at the Times Square venue, and was hoping to collect another '0' after outpointing the previously unbeaten Julio Cesar Sanchez [11(6)-0] at the same venue in July last year, but unfortunately for the Macroom native, he instead collected his first loss, going down narrowly 92-97 95-94 (twice) on the judges' scorecards, with a debatable ninth-round point deduction proving pivotal.
There was a debut for an Irish amateur legend at the famous York Hall on February 10, as four-time Irish Elite Senior champion and EU gold medallist Roy Sheahan made his professional entrance at the age of 33.
The Kildare man is entering this weekend's 'Ireland's Last Man Standing' elimination tournament at the National Stadium, Dublin, and was ordered by the Boxing Union of Ireland to get a fight under his belt to prove he was capable of competing. Sheahan certainly proved he will be a force to be reckoned with by outpointing ultra-durable journeyman Jordan Grannum [2(0)-18(0)] 40-36 over four rounds to book his spot in the knockout tournament.
Unbeaten Dungarvan light-middleweight Dylan Moran moved to 4(2)-0 on 16 February with a four-round points victory over the ultra-durable Kevin McCauley [15(0)-159(11)-12] at the Village Hotel, Bury.
'The Real Deal' will now look forward to an Irish homecoming this weekend having not yet competed on the Emerald Isle as a professional, as he fights Gyula Rozsas [4(2)-2(2)] of Hungary on the Ireland's Last Man Standing undercard.
On Saturday 10 February, Ginley Promotions returned to the Devenish Complex, Belfast with 'Danger at the Devenish 3' in what was another top night of boxing with a card stacked with upcoming Irish talent. Conrad Cummings and Luke Keeler both featured as the two middleweights prepare to face each other on the Frampton vs Donaire card at The SSE Arena, Belfast on 21 April.
But before they meet in the big arena, they each had to make their way through 'tune-up' bouts on the small-hall scene.
Up first was Coalisland's Conrad Cummings [12(5)-1(0)-1] who took on Nicaraguan journeyman Michael Mora [11(4)-21(9)] in a scheduled six rounder at the top of the card. Mora was returning to the scene of his last bout in December - when Padraig McCrory easily dispatched of him inside two-rounds - and would probably have been hoping to put on a better showing second time round, but 'Dynamite' Cummings, dominated the first round and dropped Mora three times in the second to pick up the TKO victory in a one-sided beat down.
Ally McKenzie and Sideline Films were in attendance and recorded most of the fights on the card for your viewing pleasure.
Dublin's Luke Keeler [13(5)-2(1)], on the other hand, had a much sterner test in the shape of a rematch with Doncaster's Adam Jones [7(2)-29(0)-5] who had never been stopped and was entering the bout off the back of a stoppage victory in Sheffield over Danny Tombs [8(3)-2(1)-2] a week previously.
The high-level journeyman always comes to fight and will have considered himself unlucky in his two previous bouts to Tombs - against Olympic silver medallist Fred Evans and Irish champion Pauly Upton in December last year - to have been on the wrong side of decisions.
As the action got under way it was the Yorkshireman that landed the first telling shot with a well-timed left hook that reminded Keeler what he was up against and forced the Dubliner in to action as he landed some telling blows of his own.
In the second, Keeler was landing the classier shots of the two, but the left hook again from Jones kept him honest. By the third, both fighters were shipping major blows and both demonstrating tremendous chins. It was more of the same the fourth and final stanza as both fighters threw bomb after bomb in a what was a clear fight of the night.
As the fight went to the referee scorecard the bout was announced a draw, much to the annoyance of team Keeler who thought their man had done enough.
Elsewhere on the card, Belfast super middleweight Pádraig 'The Hammer' McCrory [2(1)-0] took on Dublin-Dominican Manny Bique [0-2(1)] in a scheduled four rounder.
After a close opening round where both fighters were pushing forward looking to land big shots, McCrory came out in the second with a little more composure and threw a single right hand through the guard of Bique that landed with devastating effect, knocking the Caribbean puncher out cold and sending him crashing heavily to the canvas in what was a major contender for Knockout of the Year.
Naas lightweight Gary Cully [3(2)-0] returned to the scene of his professional debut in September of last year in a four rounder against Pal Olah [8(6)-16(4)-2].
Since ditching the vest last year, the Kildare entertainer has been earmarked by many as one to watch, and his performance at 'Danger at the Devenish 3' will have done nothing to dampen those observations. Still only 22 years old, the ultra-confident lilywhite demonstrated a wide array of skills right from the opening bell far beyond his years, reddening the ribs of his opponent with some beautifully placed hooks to the body.
Throughout the bout the Peter Taylor-trained fighter's performance oozed class. A former European youth gold medallist, Cully showcased astonishing work rate, shot selection, distance control and footwork. A ram-rod lightning fast jab barely gave his opponent time to think and recuperate before he would switch his attacks to the body - effortlessly - on his way to a 40-36 shut-out victory.
Belfast light-welterweight Anthony Upton [15(6)-1(0)] returned to the Devenish for the third time inside a year, and took on Nicaraguan Eligio Palacios [7(0)-26(3)-5] who was venturing outside his homeland for the first time in his professional career.
As the action got under way, switch-hitting Upton soon shifted into southpaw and started dictating the early part of the round with the straight left hand before converting back to orthodox to land two lead left-hooks that - were it not for a combination of ropes and holding - would have seen the Nicaraguan hit the canvas.
Palacios was deducted a point in the third stanza for persistent holding as 'Anto' continued to dominate and frustrate the journeyman with defensive slips and counters, and as the fight went to the scorecards after four rounds it was the untouched Upton that easily took the decision 40-35 on the referee's scorecard, to move to 17(4)-1.
Dublin super featherweight Declan Geraghty [15(4)-2(1)] made his first appearance since a career-best win over previously undefeated Michael Roberts last summer, and got rid of some ring-rust with a four-round decision over outclassed Nicaraguan Edwin Tellez [12(6)-35(4)-5]
'Deco' dominated from the opening bell working the body particularly well and showcasing some flashy skills. The supremacy continued throughout the bout as an ultra-confident Geraghty targeted the body with beautiful body shots before switching his attacks upstairs. Hiwever nothing could get the durable Tellez out of there as he stuck in there to see the final bell.
Southpaw Geraghty will now look forward to a fight against one half of The Irish Eye 2017 Fight of the Year' winner Johnny Quigley [14(3)-1(0)] on 31 March live on Freesports.
Belfast middleweight Gerard Healy [6(0)-4(1)-1] prepared for 'Ireland's Last Man Standing' tournament with a four-round points victory over England's Iain Jackson [5(2)-36(11)-2]
'Boom Boom' looked calm and composed from the off, putting his shots together well and continued to dominate in the second round, switching his attacks from the body to head as Jackson - who ironically had a piece of a puzzle tattooed on his back - couldn't seem to put anything together.
Healy was oozing confidence by the third, switching stances, hands down by his side and landing at will. The Belfast man landed a monster right hook towards the end of the fourth and final round, but Jackson took it well to see the final bell, as Healy took the win 40-36 on the referee's scorecard.
Rio Olympian Davey Oliver Joyce [5(4)-0] took on Lyuben Todorov [3(2)-0] of Bulgaria in the only battle of unbeaten fighters on the night at The Devenish.
'The Punisher' started well and easily took the opening stanza without ever really getting out of second gear, but Todorov was game, and certainly wasn't just here to make up the numbers. He was looking to land some shots of his own, but more often than not was being countered with ease.
As the second round started, Joyce got behind the jab, slipping anything coming his way, before switching his attack to the body with a straight right-hand and exploding up with a left hook that buckled Todorov and sent him crashing to the canvas. Todorov immediately tried to get back to his feet but ultimately fell flat on his face as referee John Lowey waved off the contest after 29 seconds of round two.
Belfast featherweight Sean Magee [1(1)-0] returned to the ring for his second professional bout after a first-round knockout over Jules Phillips in June last year and put on a powerful performance against well conditioned Nicaraguan Elvis Guillen [9(6)-34(8)-4] over four rounds.
Magee had a noisy following inside the Devenish and started ferociously, targeting the body in the opening stanza with power shots before a left-hook upstairs had the crowd wincing as the thuds from Magee's fists echoed around the hall.
The pace slowed a little in the second but Magee's attacks to the body continued. Guillen was in tremendous shape which no doubt helped him suck up the pressure and remain in the fight.
A straight right hand from Magee momentarily had Guillen wobbled in the third before a stiff left jab sent Guillen across the ring.
Guillen's eye began to swell and close over in the fourth and final round as Magee poured forward with hurtful shots, but credit has to go to the brave Guillen who stuck in there to see the final bell, with Magee taking the decision 40-36 on the referee's scorecard.
Opening the card was Dublin light welterweight Sean 'Creaghzy Horse' Creagh [7(2)-1(1)] who took on local man James Gorman [8(3)-44(5)-1] over six rounds.
Belfast's Gorman started well, working behind the jab in the opener before Creagh sprung into action with straight shots through the guard of 'The Chin', who in return landed a beautiful uppercut towards the end of the round.
After a tight second round, Gorman bloodied the nose of Creagh in the third after reverting back to the uppercuts, but Creagh came flying out the corner at the start of the fourth and was the busier of the two in the opening minute before Gorman started to land some solid shots of his own.
The fifth was another tight round with Creagh landing the crisper punches and finishing the round strong with a beautiful combination that rocked back the head of Gorman much to the delight of his travelling support.
The Dubliner landed a solid right hook to the body followed by an uppercut at the beginning of round six, and pilled on the pressure - landing flush shots on 'The Chin' on numerous occasions but not without having to eat the odd uppercut for his troubles, before taking the decision 59-55.