The Irish Eye: Former amateur stand-outs on the rise

Kane Clarke
10/10/2018 5:26am

The latest edition of The Irish Eye from Kane Clarke focuses on fast-rising talents Steven Donnelly and Sean McComb...

Former stand-out Irish amateurs Steven Donnelly and Sean McComb once again graced the same card for their second outings as professionals after both debuting on Carl Frampton's Windsor Park bill in August. On 8 September 8, it was on the undercard of Amir Khan's entertaining battle with Samuel Vargas at the Birmingham Arena, and with both fighters booked in to appear on big cards in the States in October, neither could afford a slip-up at this early stage of their respective careers

2016 Rio Olympian Steven Donnelly continued on his fast-track to titles with a four-round points victory over tricky Nicaraguan Miguel Aguilar. Aguilar (a former opponent of Paddy Gallagher, Phil Sutcliffe Jr and Connor Coyle) is a journeyman usually brought in as an opponent for prospects a little further down the line in their pro journey - but Donnelly and his team clearly see no gain in fighting so-called 'knock-over jobs' and demonstrated this by pitting the Ballymena man against the ultra-durable Kevin McCauley on his professional debut in August.

Having recently turned 30, 'getting the rounds in' will be the key objective for the two-time Commonwealth Games medallist, and with having gained a vast amount of experience fighting at a high level as an amateur and also the five-round WSB format, it's agreed that there's no need to hang around with 'The Donn', indeed the Ginley-trained light-middleweight, fought again on Friday 6 October at the Titanic Exhibition Centre, Belfast (a points win against Arvydas Trizno), and on 27 October, is due to trade leather at the famous Madison Square Garden, New York, on the undercard of Daniel Jacobs and Sergiy Derevyanchenko IBF world title bout.

Joining him at the Titanic Exhibition Centre - and The Garden - was the familiar face of Belfast light-welterweight Sean McComb, who moved to 2(2)-0 when stopping Lesther Cantillano [4(3)-19(4)] in the second round of the scheduled four on the Khan vs Vargas bill, and notched another win on the Belfast bill (full details of which will appear in our next edition).

The European Games medallist is another who is eager to manoeuvre his way up the rankings quickly and showed this with a stunning display on his debut at Windsor Park, dropping and stopping Reynaldo Mora inside four-rounds - a fighter who has took the likes of Anthony Cacace, Boy Jones and Tommy Coyle the distance in recent times.

The 26-year-old McComb was also a stand-out amateur on the Irish team before ditching the vest after crashing out of the Commonwealth Games to England's Luke McCormack on a contentious decision earlier in the year. A rangy southpaw with great technical ability, the Danny Vaughan trained fighter looks to be carrying some pop in his punches, and looks to be a nightmare for anybody in the 140lbs division, as showcased again on 8 September with his second-round stoppage of Cantillano who had recently extended Joe Cordina and Archie Sharp to points.

The journey continued for 'The Public Nuisance' on Friday night in Belfast and next he sets off to America to fight on the bill of the Billy Joe Saunders vs Demetrius Andrade fight, an undercard which also features fellow Belfast man James Tennyson's IBF world title challenge against Tevin Farmer, before fighting at 'The Mecca of Boxing' in New York a week later. (As this edition was being prepared it was announced that Saunders had not been licensed for his contest against Andrade).

On 15 September, Cork middleweight Gary 'Spike' O'Sullivan fought as chief support to the Canelo and GGG rematch against former IBF world champion David Lemieux, but unfortunately for the Paschal Collins trained fighter, it was to end in a first-round knock-out defeat. A fight with fellow countryman and Golden Boy stablemate Jason Quigley now looks likely for the Corkonian.

On 28 September at the King Abdullah Sports City, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, Mullingar super-middleweight JJ McDonagh [16(8)-5(2)] retired on his stool after three rounds against former IBO world champion Chris Eubank Jr [27(21)-2(0)] on the undercard of the World Boxing Super Series final between George Groves and Callum Smith.

Elsewhere in September, there were a couple of debuts for young Irish fighters overseas.

On 17 September, 17 year-old Cork light-welterweight James Power became Ireland's youngest pro when debuted with a second-round TKO of Mexican journeyman Omar Santos Alvarado [0-4(4)] at the Rancho Grande Bar, Tijuana. And on 22 September, Newry light-heavyweight Connor Wallace debuted with a second-round stoppage of Australian Aaron Sesay 1(1)-5(3), at The Famous Fortitude Gym, Newstead, Australia.