What if?: Ireland sent a full team of pros to the Olympics

*Note: The following is a pure fantasy article. Irish-Boxing.com disagrees with the inclusion of pro boxers in the Olympics as outlined here*

The ongoing rumour mill over which pro boxers will avail of the AIBA’s recent move to open the floodgates on professionals competing in the Olympic Games has led to many pros being suggested as potential participants in Rio.

While most likely no top pros will attempt to qualify for Brazil, all the chat has got us thinking, in a purely hypothetical sense, as to which Irish pro boxers would suit Olympic boxing.

Factoring in weight, style, and pacing, we have picked a fantasy line-up of ten Irish boxers suited to ‘amateur’ boxing.

Light Flyweight – 49kg 108lbs
No current Irish pro boxer would be able to make the weight. Australian-based Anto Connolly, who in 2014 became Ireland’s first and only minnimumweight (105lbs) fighter, is the only person who would come near to fitting the bill

Flyweight – 52kg 114.6lbs
Another weight where Ireland would struggle to find a boxer. Flyweight (112lbs) Luke Wilton would be the most likely candidate as Commonwealth super flyweight (115lbs) champ Jamie Conlan would surely have trouble making (and more importantly, sustaining) the weight.

Bantamweight – 56kg 123.5lbs
The obvious choice of Carl Frampton would not be a runner considering that he scientifically undergoes large weight cuts to make the 122lbs super bantamweight limit and would be unable to sustain this over a period of a week. Therefore the best choice would be British bantamweight (118lbs) champ Ryan Burnett, a highly accomplished amateur who won Youth Olympic gold and World Yout silver

Lightweight – 60kg 132.3lbs
At 60kg we would go for pro super featherweight (130lb) Jono Carroll who has the high-energy style to dominate someone over three rounds – as he exhibited in Prizefighter where he beat seasoned pros Steve Foster and Gary Buckland. This relentlessness sees him get the nod over the silky skilled Anto Cacace – although that is not to saw that King Kong is unskilled, and one just needs to watch his boxing exhibition against Miguel Gonzalez on the Fury-Klitschko undercard last year.

Light Welterweight – 64kg 141.1lbs
Dublin’s Stephen Ormond strains to make the 135lbs professional lightweight limit, staying at the weight purely due to an avenue to the IBF title opening up. At the Olympics, the bull-strong Celtic Warriors puncher would have the explosive ability to overwhelm an opponent with his trademark endless barrages of hooks.

Welterweight – 69kg 152.1lbs
A real doozy of a choice with 2010 Commonwealth gold medalist Paddy Gallagher, the rangy silky skilled southpaw Tyrone McKenna, and the World-ranked Dennis Hogan. Nevertheless, with his pedigree and his relentless style, we have decided to go for The Pat-Man.

Middleweight – 75kg 165.3lbs
It would seem reasonable to pick recent WBO World champ Andy Lee, however the Limerick southpaw is something of a slow starter, and would not be suited to 3×3 minute boxing. Therefore we would go for Jason Quigley, Ireland’s first ever World Championships silver medalist who most likely would have been a medal hope for Rio before turning pro. Indeed the Donegal fighter has stated his openness to competing in Brazil, although realistically this seems unlikely.

Light heavyweight 81kg 178.6lbs
In what is a sparse division in Irish boxing, the place would go to the talented current Irish champ Paddy McDonagh.

Heavyweight 91kg 200.6lbs
Our choice here is a man who would have been contending for medals in Rio had he not chosen to turn pro, Belfast’s Tommy McCarthy. Now on the cusp of a British title fight, McCarthy does not have too many regrets about turning over and on the prospect of returning to the shorter format the power-puncher told the Irish News that “I’m leaning towards giving it a miss”

Super Heavyweight +91kg +200.6lbs
An easy choice in boxing’s premier division, Tyson Fury. The Manchester-born puncher wanted to attempt to qualify for Ireland for Beijing in 2008 but was blocked due to a lack of paperwork. There would be question marks over the Gypsy King’s ability to adjust to three-round fighting, but with his size he would have an advantage over most, if not all, opponents.

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]