The Irish-Boxing.com Awards – ‘The Rinty Monaghan Fighter of the Year’

The big one. Who has been Ireland’s greatest fighter in 2015.

At all levels, who has achieved, performed, and won to the best of their ability, and beyond, to set themselves apart from their peers.

In a year where he has had a majestic statue dedicated to him in his home city of Belfast, we have named this award in honour of the legendary, late, great Rinty Monaghan who was World flyweight champion from 1947 to 1949, back in an era of just 8 weight classes and only 8 champions.

Reading through the list one can see the depth of World class talent on this island. All boxers nominated, as well as every other boxer that calls these shores home, deserves limitless credit and it has been a privledge for us here at irish-boxing.com to be able to write about each and every one

We can’t wait for next year.

And the nominees are:

Michael Conlan
It has been an amazing 12 months for Mick Conlan and the Belfast bantamweight has arguably confirmed himself as Ireland’s greatest ever male amateur boxer. Conlan achieved Olympic qualification through the WSB in dramatic circumstances before steamrolling his way to European and World gold, picking up another Olympic qualification slot in the process. Now favourite for Olympic gold and with promoters almost barging the door in, 2016 promises to be even bigger for Mick.

Paul Hyland Jr
One of the island’s most exciting fighters, Hylo won five times this year, including a headline slot at the Europa Hotel in October. The lightweight’s last four bouts have all been against come-forward fighters with winning records and Hyland outfought each and every one to the delight of his passionate fanbase – which now includes Carl Frampton, who was blown away by his clash with Virgil Degonzaga in November.

Ryan Burnett
Following a relatively inactive 2014, the career of Ryan Burnett roared into life this year. Now under the tutelage of Adam Booth, the Belfast man has won six times and mark himself out as one of the soon-to-be stars of the bantamweight division. 2015 has seen Burnett make his American debut, won the WBO European title, signed with Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Promotions, claimed the British title, and entered the WBO Top 15.

TJ Doheny
The Laois super bantamweight has been quietly flying up the ranks in Australia and 2015 saw him twice defend his PABA (Pan-Asian) title alongside two other early stoppage wins.One of these title defences was against former two-weight World champ Denkaosan Kaovichit who Doheny broke down and finished inside five rounds. Now highly ranked with the WBA, Doheny wants to become a player on the World scene in 2016.

Katie Taylor
The Bray lightweight, after a scare in the semi-finals, claimed gold at the inaugural European Games to make it 18 major international medals and further cement her place as the most decorated sportperson in Ireland’s history – and in the history of women’s amateur boxing. Taylor then got the chance to fight for, and win, the Irish title for the first time against Shauna O’Keefe – an emotional new honour for someone who has played a large part in helping introduce Women’s boxing both to Ireland and to the Olympics.

James Tennyson
In addition to four other quick stoppage victories, ‘The Assassin’ won the BBBoC Celtic featherweight title this year with an utterly dominant performance over Kris Hughes. The Belfast knock-out artist has now positioned himself near the top in the British ranking and faces a title defence/British title eliminator in February against Scotland’s Darren Traynor.

Paddy Barnes
The Belfast light flyweight’s level of dominance in this season’s WSB was frightening. Barnes posted a perfect seven wins from seven and secured Olympic qualification for a third Games in a row, as well as topping the table. This achievement can’t be stressed enough, 14 weeks, 7 fights, and over 50,000 kilometers in air miles, to become the self-styled WSB World Champion.

Tyson Fury
The former Irish heavyweight champion won boxing’s biggest prize in November, ripping the lineal and unified heavyweight title away from long-ruling Ukrainian king Wladimir Klitschko. The Manchester-born man mountain was faced with postponement and underhand tactics yet still came away a comprehensive win to begin the reign of the Gypsy King.

Michael O’Reilly
2015 has seen the slick southpaw announce himself as one of the most talented boxers in the World. The Portlaoise BC middleweight claimed European Games gold during the Summer before going on to win World bronze. Sadly the 22 year old was denied an Olympic slot by some dubious judging, but one would be confident that O’Reilly will confirm his place at the Games in the new year.

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]