‘Unprecedented’ – Katelynn Phelan ready to prosper in the ‘new normal’

It’s an unprecedented fight inspired by unprecedented times for a fighter that is on somewhat of an unprecedented journey and – according to Stephen Sharpe of Boxing Ireland Promotions – a fight that will bring about an unprecedented result.

Katelynn Phelan [3(0)-0] takes on German-Ukrainian sensation Jessica Schadko  [8(2)-0] in the Munich suburb of Donauwoerth for a host of titles tomorrow [Saturday] evening.

Not only is it a massive fight for Ireland’s youngest female pro, it’s a unique clash in terms of Irish female boxing.

Status quo suggests the Kildare 20-year-old should have remained within the amateur ranks to try to forge a reputation as an elite athlete with world and even Olympic success – and considering she is a European Junior and World Youth bronze medallist, that path certainly looked an option.

Then, once there was nothing more to be achieved in the amateurs, the pro ranks would prove a career bonus.

It’s a path that has been tread by Olympic champions Katie Taylor, Claressa Shields, Nicola Adams, and Estelle Mossely among other outstanding amateurs.

However, the younger sister of pro Allan Phelan became the first Irish female under 30 to turn pro since trailblazers Deirdre Gogarty and Deirdre Nelson in the early 1990s.

Now in just her fourth professional fight Phelan has the chance to register a massive scalp and secure a win that would move her to the fringes of a world title fight.

Considering she is just 20, Phelan could be handed the keys to some huge fights all before she is handed the key to the front door.

Manager Stephen Sharpe explained how “it’s generally unheard of for a fighter of Katelynn’s experience and age to get an opportunity like this, however, we are in unprecedented times and it’s fallen perfectly for Katelynn.”

The unexpected nature of the fight doesn’t daunt Sharpe nor Team Phelan, but the magnitude of proceedings isn’t wasted on them either.

Boxing Ireland know a win for Phelan could see her become deemed as one of female boxing’s hottest prospects – and seen as a prospect with record-breaking potential considering her age.

“She has worked so hard with her Dad and Niall [Barrett, coach] over COVID and even the postponement for the fight from last month has benefited her. If she can go out there and pull this off then Katelynn’s name will be on the lips of everyone in global boxing and set up a massive future for her.” 

One of Sharpe’s partners in Boxing Ireland, the outfit behind the Celtic Clash series, Leonard Gunning, echoes the sentiments.

Gunning points out the odds are stacked against the fighter who is trained by Niall Barrett and her father, but is confident she can register victory in what he labels the biggest fight in the promotional company’s history.

“This is the biggest fight in Boxing Ireland history. It’s a massive, massive fight. It would be great to see everyone get behind her. It’s a great fight, a really even fight.”

“Jessica Schadko an unbeaten fighter out in Germany, she has everything in her favour, more experience, she has done 10 rounds before, [the fight’s] in Germany, in her home town, in her home gym! Everything in her favour!”

“But I think Katelynn Phelan beats her!”

Jonny Stapleton

Irish-boxing.com contributor for 15 years and editor for the past decade. Have been covering boxing for over 16 years and writing about sport for a living for 19 years. Former Assistant Sports editor for the Gazette News Paper Group and former Tallaght Voice Sports Editor. Have had work published in publications around the world when working as a freelance journalist. Also co-founder of Junior Sports Media and Leinster Rugby PRO of the Year winner. email: [email protected]