In 2015 many Irishmen went above and beyond what was expected of them in the ring, Some claimed shock wins, some showed their skills, some showed dominance that nobody predicted – but all further proved their brilliance.
This year marked the 20th anniversary of Wayne McCullough’s shock win over defending WBC bantamweight champion Yasuei Yakushiji in Japan, and this award is named in honour of the Pocket Rocket’s performance that night.
And the nominees are:
Carl Frampton v Chris Avalos
The brash American certainly got on Frampton’s nerves ahead of their bout at the Odyssey Arena in February. However, this seemingly only provided ‘The Jackal’ with fuel for an utterly destructive performance that saw him break down and stop the cocky Californian in five rounds to retain his IBF super bantamweight title live on terrestrial television with ITV
Peter McDonagh v Dean Byrne
Going into this Irish welterweight title bout in November, many predicted a clash of styles with former journeyman McDonagh up against the slick skills of former Wildcard star Byrne. Instead it was the other way around and MGM’s McDonagh put on a stirring performance built on a top class jab to out-box Dublin’s Byrne
Alfredo Meli v Conrad Cummings
Back in November, Alfredo Meli was intended to be an opportunity for Cyclone star Conrad Cummings to look impressive, post a good win, and secure the BBBoC Celtic middleweigh title, and after downing the Belfast man in the first round, it certainly looked like this would be the case. However, Meli showed brilliant skills and workrate to battle back to secure a highly credible draw despite being a part-time boxer that was massively outweighed in the ring.
Anto Cacace v Ronnie Clark
Long described as one of the most natural talents in Irish boxing, Cacace gave some more proof of this in October with a stunning final round knockout of Scotland’s Ronnie Clark to win the BBBoC Celtic super featherweight title. Fighting on hostile ground at the Meadowbank Sports Arena in Edinburgh, the Cyclone star showed top class skills and spiteful punching power to claim the belt with a dominant win
Phil Sutcliffe Jr v Yoann Portailler
We all know Phil Sutcliffe Jr can bang, but in May he proved that he can box as well when he won an eight round decision against concrete-chinned Frenchman Yoann Portailler at the Red Cow Moran Hotel in Dublin. Young Phil had his Gallic foe down in the first, before dominating the remainder of the fight and securing himself a European ranking. Afterwards, a dazed Portailler could not believe the power of the Dubliner and enquired to check his gloves for illegal padding.
Tommy McCarthy v Courtney Fry
Big Tommy was thrown in at the deep end in just his fifth fight when he faced Commonwealth gold medalist and Olympian Courtney Fry in the headline bout of the Féile Fight Night. The Belfast cruiser however rose brilliant to the occasion, dropping his man in the second and eight rounds, as well as overcoming some tough moments, en-route to a points win which confirmed his World Class potential
Andy Lee v Peter Quillin
Down and concussed in the first and incorrectly adjudged to have been down again in the third, it looked like Andy Lee was on course for a loss back in April against U.S. star Peter Quillin. However, the Limerick middleweight fought back brilliantly, sending Quillin down in the seventh with his famous right hook and exhibiting his underrated skills to claim a well-deserved draw.
James Tennyson v Kris Hughes
The tough Scot was expected to test Tennyson when they fought in March for the BBBoC Celtic title – indeed the card was titled ‘The Test.’ This exam was certainly passed with flying colours as the Belfast featherweight bullied Hughes around the ring for rounds until he was disqualified for excessive holding, and ‘The Badger’ admitted afterwards that he just couldn’t handle the straength of ‘The Assassin.’
Tyson Fury v Wladimir Klitschko
Many dismissed Tyson Fury’s chances of upsetting Wladimir Klitschko’s long reign as unified heavyweight champ when the pair met back in November. Indeed with the bout postponed a month and some shady issues surrounding both the gloves and the canvas, it seemed like the deck was stacked in favour of Dr. Steelhammer. However, the former Irish champ came with a plan and executed it to a tee, boxing from distance, negating the Ukrainian legend, and claiming a well-deserved victory.
Jono Carroll v Miguel Gonzalez
‘Hey Jono, do you want to fight on the Klitschko-Fury PPV undercard this weekend?’
‘It’ll be an eight rounder’
‘You’ll be fighting a Central American knockout artist’
‘Actually, it’s going to be a ten rounder’
‘Bring it on!’
Despite short notice, Jono Carroll boxed to perfection back in November, showing range, skill, and nous to overcome Miguel Gonzalez over ten rounds in a performance that had the Sky pundits purring.