‘For Honour and Pride’ – Opponent Analysis

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Red Corner Promotions return to the National Stadium tomorrow night looking to build on their hugely successful ‘Unfinished Business’ card in February.

Here, ‘For Honour and Pride‘ sees the young outfit add all-Irish clashes to their already much-praised brand of aggressive matchmaking.

A solid eight fight card, the Dublin fight night looks to be a near ideal show in the so-called ‘mid-level’ bracket – bigger than small hall but below big TV cards – with title fights and competitive match-ups peppered throughout the bill.

Headliner for the third Red Corner show in a row, local lad Luke Keeler [12(5)-2(1)] looks to bolster his European ranking and claim the Irish middleweight title when he takes on Roscommon’s Darren Cruise [7(1)-5(0)]. On paper the fight is not as competitive as Keeler’s previous scrap, where he outpointed Englishman Lewis Taylor – however Cruise comes to the ring in the shape of his life and has the prize of the Irish title up for grabs. Cruise has undoubted natural talent and, with proper preparations including a portion of his camp spent in Florida, it promises to be a competitive and committed fight.

Perhaps the most competitive fight on the bill is the Irish light heavyweight title clash between former champion Paddy McDonagh [10(0)-2(0)] and Stevie Collins [10(4)-0-1]. A slick southpaw versus a rapidly improving powerhouse, it is a hugely intriguing fight. Mullingar’s McDonagh weighed in today in supreme shape, and has spent time sparring with Chris Eubank Jr for this fight. Castleknock’s Collins, the son of Eubank’s father’s two-time conqueror, was the stand-out performer on the last Red Corner show with a break-out win over Pablo Sosa and it would be mightily impressive if he could score another step-up triumph here.

Chris Blaney [6(3)-0] has once again suffered a late pull-out, thankfully however he still faces the toughest fight of his career thus far. Initially due to face former Southern Area champ Nicky Jenman, ‘The Ginger Ninja’ will now take on reigning Central Area middleweight champion Darryl Sharp [5(0)-15(0)] over six. While Jenman was in hot form, Sharp too has caused his fair share of shocks and dominated Ben Davies to win the belt last month. The Manchester southpaw definitely can not be underestimated.

The biggest cheer of the night may come for Mayo lightweight Ray Moylette [4(2)-0] who makes his Irish debut. Sugar Ray has also been presented with a step up, and will move to six rounds to face his toughest opponent thus far – Arnold Martinez [6(1)-2(0)-1] of French Guiana. A dangerous outside fighter, the South American is coming to win on his maiden European voyage. While he has been out of the ring over a year, he still presents a more than acceptable test to the Westerner who is progressing nicely.

Inner-city light middleweight Craig O’Brien [4(0)-0] has a potential BUI Celtic title fight with Ger Healy in the works, however he must first negotiate the sizeable challenge of Spaniard Christian Hoskin Gomez [5(1)-22(2)-3]. An opponent who will hold a size advantage, Gomez is known for his game performances, regularly taking rounds and causing upsets. The Plymouth-based puncher recently gave Chris Blaney a tough test and in the past has held Dubliner Craig Mullen to a draw and outpointed Guernsey-Irish fighter Tom Duff over eight. Only ever stopped by big hitters Felix Cash and Mark Heffron, Gomez will press O’Brien for all six rounds and ‘The Iron’ needs to be sharp.

Making his debut, Moldovan-born Dublin light welter Victor Rabei faces another Plymouth boxer in one of the toughest first fights in recent memory. ‘The Chisinau Cyclone’ becomes the first debutant to take on Chris Adaway, boxing the tricky Englishman over four. Usually seen as an early step-up opponent, Adaway last month stopped 3-0 prospect Sam Jones, and has also drawn with Ben Owen (1-0) and Mike Cole (3-0) this year. Last year, in what was then a step up for ‘The Mighty Celt,’ Tyrone McKenna outpointed Adaway over six in Cardiff. A talented former amateur who will fancy his chances, it is an extremely tough first fight for Rabei who will look to instantly stand out from the packed crowd of new fighters.

Kildare feather Allan Phelan [8(5)-2(1)-1] continues his comeback with a four-round bout against Manchester journeyman Jamie Quinn [2(0)-40(1)-1]. Quinn, who normally boxes at lightweight, will hold a size advantage over the Newbridge boxer and this should cause some challenge for Phelan. However, Quinn is very much from the traditional British school of journeymen in that he ‘knows his place’ and boxes somewhat within himself, almost providing a service to rising prospects rather than an opponent who comes to win. There will be spurts of quality from the Englishman no doubt though, who always lends himself to exciting fights.

Following a hugely exciting debut win over Alejandro Mostazo, middleweight Thomas Finnegan [1(0)-0] will look to learn his trade here when he takes on awkward and scrappy Nicaraguan Santos Medrano [10(3)-55(11)-4]. The Spanish-based southpaw will look to frustrate, as he did against Connor Coyle in November, and a stoppage from Finnegan would be a big statement.

All in all though it is an exceedingly strong card and looks to be another good effort from Red Corner, with two good Irish title fights and four other rising fighters taking on the toughest tests of their careers.

Tickets for the tomorrow’s show cost €40 (general) and €60 (ringside) and there will be a very limited number available at the doors – which open at 6:00pm

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Joe O'Neill

Reporting on Irish boxing the past five years. Work has appeared on irish-boxing.com, Boxing News, the42.ie, and local and national media. Provide live ringside updates, occasional interviews, and special features on the future of Irish boxing. email: [email protected]