The Irish Eye: July
The latest 'Celtic Clash' series, as well as another win for Katie Taylor, headline July's edition of 'The Irish Eye' courtesy of Kane Clarke...
On July 14, boxing returned to Dublin with the sixth installment of the Boxing Ireland Promotions / Tony Davitt Promotions 'Celtic Clash' series with a card stacked with Irish talent in well-matched step-ups. The card was headlined by two mouth-watering BUI Celtic title bouts featuring four fighters who were yet to have reached the five-fight landmark in their professional journeys so far, but were eager to stamp their name on the Irish boxing scene early in their respective careers.
Headlining the 'small hall' event was a cracker between Cork's Colin O'Donovan and Tallaght's Carl McDonald, with the latter winning via a points decision. O'Donovan was fresh off back-to-back Irish Fight of the Year contenders against Stephen McAfee up at super-featherweight, fighting to a draw in their first bout and losing a narrow split-decision to the Dubliner in the rematch for the BUI title in March. As for McDonald, he last fought on the Pay-Per-View Bellew v Haye II card at the O2 Arena, London, in May, giving a great account of himself against undefeated prospect Jordan Gill [19(4)-0] on his way to a six-round points loss.
Despite the two fighters' recent losses, their performances in defeat and willingness to take tough fights in the early days of their professional careers didn't go unnoticed by their promoters, and resulted in the pair being allocated top billing for 'Celtic Clash 6' at the Good Council, GAA Club, Drimnagh, in an eight-round bout for the featherweight BUI Celtic title.
The bout was originally scheduled to take place for the vacant super-bantamweight version of the BUI Celtic title, however, O'Donovan struggled to get down to the 122lbs limit on weigh-in day. Luckily both the fighters agreed to move up and meet at featherweight. The 126lbs BUI Celtic champion was Boxing Ireland Promotions stablemate Eric Donovan, and the 'Lilywhite Lightning' agreed to vacate his 126lbs version of the belt to let O'Donovan and McDonald scrap it out for the title.
O'Donovan was naturally the bigger man in the ring on the night but it was the skills of McDonald that told as the bout unfolded. 'The Cobra' outboxed 'The Rebel Rouser' throughout most of the bout, dropping him in the seventh round with a body shot. But O'Donovan remained dangerous throughout and also had his moments, but it was McDonald that picked up the unanimous decision points victory, and the win sees the 29-year-old improve his record to 4(0)-2(0), while the game O'Donovan slips to 1(1)-3(1).
Also on the bill, Victor Rabei claimed the vacant BUI light-welterweight title after an entertaining eight-round war with Karl Kelly. Rabei found himself on the title stage following a third-round stoppage of Belfast's Mark Morris in his last bout, while Kelly pushed undefeated prospect Lucas Ballingall all the way in a six-round contest in Belfast last time out. But when the pair met in the ring it was the boxing skill of the Moldovan Dubliner Rabei that prevailed, seeing the undefeated fighter up his professional record to 5(1)-0 after picking up his first professional title, whilst warrior Kelly falls to 1(0)-2(0).
Elsewhere on the undercard, European title chasing Eric Donovan returned from a hand injury that kept him out of the ring for five months to successfully outpoint Samuil Dimitrov over four rounds and improve his unbeaten record to 8(4)-0. Dimitrov falls to 1(1)-2(1)-1.
Dublin welterweight Keane McMahon picked up the first stoppage win of his career at 'Celtic Clash 6', downing Jade Karam in the third after a sustained assault to the body and head from 'The Iceman', forcing Karam's corner to throw in the towel. After upping his unbeaten record to 4(1)-0, 24-year-old McMahon is now looking to challenge for the BUI Celtic title held by fellow Dubliner Jay Byrne.
Lucan welterweight John Joyce came through a bruising six-round encounter with Bulgarian journeyman Angel Emilov to improve his unbeaten record to 6(3)-0, winning the bout 58-57 on referee Emile Teidt's scorecard.
Dublin super featherweight Stephen McAfee moved to 4(2)-0-1 with a six-round points win over tough journeyman Damian Lawnicsak. The BUI Celtic champion downed his Polish opponent in the opening stanza on his way to a 59-54 victory, which saw Lawnicsak's ledger slip to 4(0)-27(3)-1.
Hard-hitting Ballybrack lightweight Niall O'Connor continued his stoppage streak with a first-round TKO of Slaveya Stefanov to improve his unbeaten record to 4(3)-0. Stefanov falls to 4(2)-6(4).
Jobstown bantamweight Dylan McDonagh improved his perfect record to 3(1)-0 after a six-round points decision victory over Georgi Georgiov, who fell to 4(3)-11(4)-1.
Limerick light-middleweight Graham McCormick O'Shea moved to 3(0)-0 with a routine four-rounds points win over Radoslav Mitev [10(2)-41(16)-2]
Dublin super-featherweight Aiden Metcalfe returned to the ring ten months on from his professional debut, and moved to 2(0)-0 with a four-round points victory over Polish journeyman Krzysztof Rogowski [10(5)-27(15)].
And finally, there was a professional debut for Antrim cruiserweight Conor Cooke who got his career off to the perfect start with a contender for Irish KO of the year, finishing Pawel Kucharski with a well-timed uppercut in the second round to move to 1(1)-0.
On Saturday 28 July, Katie Taylor successfully defended her WBA and IBF lightweight world titles with a third-round stoppage of American Kimberly Connor at the O2 Arena, London, on the PPV undercard of Dillian Whyte's decision victory over Joseph Parker.
The Bray lightweight was in frightening form straight from the opening bell, attacking the challenger's head and body with ferocious lightning fast combinations, mixing the shots up beautifully before finally rocking Connor badly in the third, forcing referee Steve Gray to jump in immediately and wave off the bout.
The unified world champion now moves into double figures with a professional record of 10(5)-0 and is next out in Chicago on 6 October where she faces WBO featherweight champion Cindy Serrano [27(10)-5-3].
Also on the Whyte vs Parker undercard, Irish light-middleweight champion Craig O'Brien suffered the first loss of his professional career against Matchroom prospect Anthony Fowler. 'The Iron' started very brightly and was boxing beautifully up right up until he was stopped by Rio Olympian in the sixth round of their scheduled eight-rounder.
The Dubliner now moves to 8(0)-1(1), whilst 'The Machine' Fowler, remains undefeated at 7(6)-0.