The Irish Eye: September
After the summer break, Irish boxing returned with a bumper month of action, including two cards hosted on the island. Kane Clarke rounds up all of September's goings-on...
Blaney comes through tough test in Walsall
Navan super middleweight Christopher Blaney came through a tough six-round contest with the lively Anthony Fox on 1 September at The Stadium Suite, Banks Stadium, Walsall.
The undefeated Ricky Hatton-trained fighter was made to work for the eighth victory of his career, as the game Fox looked to cause another Irish upset having held Cork super middle Vladimir Belujsky to a debut draw back in March. But a strong finish from the 'Ginja Ninja' saw him retain his unbeaten record with a 58-56 points victory on referee Shaun Messer's scorecard.
Speaking to irish-boxing.com post-fight, Blaney, now 8(3)-0, stated “I weighed in three hours before the fight which had a big effect on my performance, I smashed training for the last six weeks, so my fitness shouldn’t have been an issue, but I felt drained in the third round.”
Looking at the positives, Blaney noted “that fight showed I had a lot of heart and grit ...It was a good fight and he’s a game fighter which is what I always want.”
Celtic Clash 3: Building Champions
The National Stadium, Dublin, played host to 'Celtic Clash 3: Building Champions' on 9 September, as Boxing Ireland Promotions and Tony Davitt Promotions once again teamed up to put on a stacked card filled with entertaining bouts.
At the top of the card, Eric 'Lilywhite Lightning' Donovan continued his upward trajectory with an eight-round points victory over experienced Welshman Dai Davies, and picked up the BUI Celtic featherweight title in the process.
The Athy fighter had to fight through some adversity as he picked up a cut in the third round, but the 32 year-old prevailed with some classy combinations, switching from the body and head beautifully to up his unbeaten record to 5(3)-0, after taking the decision 80-72 on referee Emile Tiedt's scorecard.
“I wanted to entertain. I didn’t want it to just be a shutout. I want to create memories, I want to entertain” Donovan said post-fight.
“I just want to test myself. I did a long time as an amateur, I did the WSB, I’m 32 – I don’t need years and years of learning. I want to [take a] chance, risk-reward. Give me the shot and what happens, happens.
“It would be lovely to get an Irish title. That would be a good stepping stone. That would put me into the European rankings and I’d love to get a shot at a European title further down the line. That’d be class. I don’t know where it’s going to go but it’s a journey and I’m really enjoying it.”
The chief support of the night saw two young undefeated prospects risking their perfect records at a very early stage of their careers. Regan Buckley (1-0) and Carl McDonald (2-0) went to war for six rounds, with Bray's Buckley coming out on top, although both fighters' stock will certainly have risen after the all-action six-rounder.
Also on the undercard, Gerard Whitehouse moved to 7(2)-0 with a fourth-round stoppage over Hungarian Gergo Vari who drops to 21(7)-20(10)-1 and Sean Creagh took on Valentin Stoychev at late notice and cruised to a four-round points victory. Bernard Roe stopped Radoslav Mitev in the third of their scheduled four-rounder. Dublin lightweight Stephen McAfee went 2-0 with his with as many stoppages, halting Attila Horvath in the opening stanza and John Joyce picked up a points win over 'The Chin' Jamesy Gorman to also move to 2-0.
There were also debut wins for Youghal super bantamweight Colin O'Donovan, who impressed in stopping Trayan Slavev in the third, Ballybofey cruiserweight Michael Gallagher, who also stopped Mateusz Rybarski in three rounds and Crumlin light-welterweight Martin Quinn, who stopped Marcin Ficner in two.
Finally there were debut points wins for Dublin bantamweight Dylan McDonagh over Georgi Andonov, Crumlin super-featherweight Aiden Metcalfe over Damian Lawniczak, Bray welterweight James Cahill over Tomasz Goluch, Ballybrack light welterweight Niall O'Conor over Pal Olah, and Kildare light heavyweight Chris Mullally over Przemyslaw Binienda.
After two successful shows already this year, and a host of new talent signed-up, Boxing Ireland Promotions will again return to the National Stadium on 2 December for 'Celtic Clash 4', with Eric Donovan once again headlining over eight rounds.
Celtic Warriors pick up big wins stateside
Wexford heavyweight Niall Kennedy claimed his second title in as many fights as he upset home fighter Alexis Santos over ten action packed rounds, to claim the New England Heavyweight Title via a split decision victory.
'Boom Boom Baz' was the underdog heading into the bout at the Foxwoods Resort, Mashantucket on 15 September, but walked out with another title to add to his Massachusetts State Heavyweight Title he won in March with the dramatic final round stoppage of the fancied Jesse Barboza.
“I didn’t think it was close to be honest. Kennedy, now 9(5)-0 told irish-boxing.com, "I knew I gave away a couple of stupid rounds and I knew he took the last round, but I think the 96-93 scorecard was fair. It was a 60-40 sort of fight to him, so any close rounds we knew he was going to get.
“It’s a massive fight and a massive win," he continued. "But I don’t want to be a clown and start thinking that I’m better than I am, I definitely need to get the mental thing sorted out. I will take confidence out of that fight though - I showed the world I have a good chin, even though I didn’t plan on showing that! There’s loads of bad stuff that I can work on. If I can relax and not panic, I’ll be very hard to beat.”
The Celtic Warriors gym fighter has signed a promotional deal with Murphys Boxing off the back of his two recent title wins, and is hoping they can help push his career in the right direction.
Click here to watch Santos vs Kennedy
On the undercard, 'Mayo Maestro' Ray Moylette had to come back from being knocked down for the first time in his professional career, to battle to a six-round split-decision victory over Donte Bryant.
An impressive amateur, Bryant came in to the bout with a record of 1(1)-2(0), having elected to fight as an away fighter thus far in his career. With Bryant's two losses having come via split decisions to undefeated prospects, Moylette knew he was in with a tough fighter, and he found out just how tough when he was countered and dropped heavily in the opening seconds of the second round.
'Sugar Ray' recovered well and finished the bout strong to get the nod 57-56 on two of the judges' scorecards to improve to 6(2)-0. The Islandeady man was happy to have negotiated his way through the tricky encounter, telling irish-boxing.com: “I’m delighted with the win first off. He was no pushover and had real skills to back it up. It’s not ideal getting dropped in any fight, and I hope it never happens to me again, but when you're in that ring you have to be prepared to take the good with the bad.”
The 27-year-old Moylette was out again just two weeks later at the House of Blues, Boston, and this time stopped former world title challenger Michael Clark inside two rounds.
The former European amateur champion sent Clark crashing to the canvas with a straight right hand down the middle, that forced the referee to wave the bout off immediately.
Ray's manager and founder of Assassin Promotions commented: "This was a really tough test for Ray on paper, but Ray is always improving and he made Michael Clark look like a novice, which is an achievement in itself. I think everyone in boxing knows the potential Ray has. We are gradually stepping Ray up, but if he keeps going this way, we’ll see him in the big, big fights sooner rather than later. At the same time, Ray has only been a pro for seven months, so we have to be careful, but with his work with Packie Collins, he’s done brilliantly to convert from the amateurs to the paid ranks."
Moylette's record now stands at 7(3)-0, and the Mayo lightweight will now focus his attention on 14 October when he will fight at the famous York Hall over six rounds against an opponent to be confirmed.
Headlining the Golden Boy ESPN bill at The House of Blues, was Cork middleweight Gary 'Spike' O'Sullivan, who dominated Liverpool's Nick Quigley before stopping him in the fourth round.
Spike, now 33, told irish-boxing.com how he had rejected a three-fight offer from Golden Boy Promotions prior to his bout with Quigley, in the hope of an improved offer once the bout was finished. “I rolled the dice,” he said. “I was offered a three-fight deal with Golden Boy, fights on ESPN, but I turned it down. Now after that performance they’re going to want me back and will have to have a bigger offer.”
“I’ve had a lot of big nights, fighting a current world champion, fighting on Box Office, fighting on Sky, even winning and defending the Irish title, but I think that was my biggest win.”
Ginley Promo returns with 'Danger at the Devinish'
Ginley Promotions returned to The Devenish Complex on 16 September with 'Danger at the Devenish' featuring a host of MTK's top talent through a seven-bout card.
Derry super-bantamweight Tyrone McCullagh headlined the show, but will be disappointed his fight couldn't reach a natural conclusion, with referee Hugh Russell Jr having to disqualify Craig Derbyshire for persistent rule infringements in the second round.
The win sees McCullagh raise his unbeaten record to 8(4)-0, while BBBoC Central Area super flyweight champion Derbyshire dropped to 5(1)-22(3)-3.
Speaking to irish-boxing.com afterwards, 'White Chocolate' was apologetic, stating “I would like to apologise to my fans, they bought tickets expecting an eight rounder and a title fight, but it got changed three times in the last week and I just want to take the chance to say sorry and thank them for the support.”
“I was hitting him and he stumbled a bit, the ref didn’t rule it a knockdown and said fight on so I kept hitting him. He seemed to go mad then and he pulled the referee out of the way to get at me, there is nothing I can do about that. It is disappointing but a win’s a win at the end of the day and we move on. I think he just wanted out and what can you do when he does something like that?”
Elsewhere on the undercard, Belfast light-heavyweight Steven Ward had an easy night's work as he stopped Attila Tibor Nagy, to improve his unbeaten record to 5(2)-0. Belfast welterweight Anthony Upton moved to 16(6)-1(0) with a sixth-round stoppage of Innocent Anyanwu. Rio Olympian Davey Oliver Joyce moved to 3(2)-0 and went the distance for the first time with a six-round victory over Ivan Godor. Steve Collins Jr returned from his loss for the Irish title with a six-round points victory over Edgar Sniedze. Sean Turner also picked up a win coming off the first loss of his professional career, going the six-round distance with Blaise Mendouo, and finally there was a debut win for highly touted amateur Gary Cully, who took just 42-seconds to dispose of Gyula Tallosi.
Conlan gets KO win in Tuscon
'The Conlan Revolution' rolled into The Convention Centre, Tuscon, on 22 September on the undercard of a world title double header between Gilberto Ramirez and Jesse Hart, and Conlan stablemate Oscar Valdez defence of his word title against Genesis Servania.
Having fought three negative opponents so far in his professional career, Michael Conlan had been calling to be matched up with someone who was willing to come and 'have a go' so he could show the power he possesses. Top Rank delivered the undefeated Kenny Guzman, 3(1)-0, who came to fight, but ultimately paid a heavy price, as a right hook from 'The Fighting Pride of Ireland' connected on the chin of Guzman with full force, and sent the 30-year-old American crashing to the canvas heavily, forcing the referee to wave off the bout after Guzman bravely but unsteadily rose to beat the eight count.
“I’ve been looking for that clean one-punch KO, and I knew it was there - it was just a matter of time before I had an opponent who would actually come to fight for me to be able to land one of those shots.” Conlan told irish-boxing.com.
“I felt the move up [to featherweight] has helped me develop more power - I was able to focus more on my strength and conditioning this camp.”
The 2015 amateur world champion also explained how “I know I need to be taking these guys out so I just went in and let rip this time, I knew after one or two shots he had nothing to bother me so I was happy to try entertain a war-hungry Mexican crowd.”
Conlan will now return to the scene of his debut at Madison Square Garden Theatre on the undercard of the highly anticipated showdown between amateur greats Vasyl Lomachencko and Guillermo Rigondeaux on 9 December.
Elsewhere throughout the month, Dungarvan light middleweight Dylan Moran went to 2(1)-0 with a first-round stoppage of Geiboord Osier on 22 September at the Middleton Arena.
Peter McDonagh continued his Cinderella man story with a points win over Shayne Singleton at the Manchester Arena to even up his record at 28(3)-28(2)-1.
Larry Fryers moved to 4(2)-0 with a first round stoppage of Tyryen Hamilton at the Rivers Casino and Resort, Schenectady on 23 September.
Jay Byrne once again took a step up in class, and weight, on 30 September at the Liverpool Echo Arena, as he went four rounds with Liverpudlian Olympian Anthony Fowler before being stopped, seeing his record slip to 5(1)-3(1).
There was also heartache for Cork-Cuban Mike 'The Rebel' Perez on 30 September, as he went down on a narrow unanimous decision loss to WBC cruiserweight champion, Mairis Breidis at the Arena Riga, Riga, Latvia.