Weekend Round-Up: Irish title hopefuls impress on Saturday

It was a busy weekend in England and there was some Irish interest on some big cards.

On the inaugural BoxNation-BT Sport bill in Manchester, Jimmy Kelly was involved in a real barnstormed with Rick Godding. The Carlow-Wythenshawe light middle, who challenged for the WBO title in December 2015, withstood a late charge from Godding to take a one-point (96:95) victory. After what was the biggest win of his career thus far, MTK’s Kelly [21(8)-1(1)] will be looking to contend for domestic titles.

Another MTK light middle, JJ Metcalf was also in action at the Manchester Arena. Kid Shamrock scored an inside-the-distance victory over the rarely-stopped Jason Ball to move to 15(7)-0. Another on the cusp of domestic titles, and someone who has expressed an interest in the Irish belt, Metcalf forced Ball to retire at the end of the fifth.

Finally on that bill there was Kildare-Oldham puncher Mark Heffron who have another knockout win. In what was a keep-busy bout ahead of his move to middleweight, Heffron stopped Hungarian Achilles Szabo inside two. A quick and easy contest, it was a repeat of their 2013 clash which Heffron won in 30 seconds. The prodigious talent improves to 15(13)-0.

Moving south to Swindon, there were Irish title-hungry fighters in action at the Oasis Leisure Centre.

Opening the show, Galway-Bristol light heavyweight David Bailey [6(1)-0] made the jump up to eight rounds, bypassing six rounders, and scored a first round stoppage of Dmitrij Kalinovskij. The Throwback will look to continue to build before an Irish title tilt in the future.

In the chief support bout, Wexford-Swindon cruiserweight Luke Watkins [10(6)-0] set himself up for an Irish title fight with Ian Tims following a fourth round knockout of Ondrej Budera. The clash with Tims has been authorised by the Boxing Union of Ireland and the Dublin hardman has recently expressed his interest in the bout next, with a date in late May or early June being mooted.

There was then an upset in the headline fight, with Belfast-Portsmouth welter Michael McKinson [11(1)-0] defeating home favourite Ryan Martin over ten. The slick southpaw boxed to plan and claimed a unanimous decision (97-95, 97-94, 98-93) win, picking up the WBC Youth title in the process. ‘The Problem,’ who has links to both Alio Wilton and Mark Dunlop, has expressed his desire to fight again in Ireland, where his firs four fights took place, this 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]