In some of the biggest Irish boxing news of the year, it was confirmed this week that super bantamweight stars Carl Frampton and Scott Quigg will finally come to blows on February 27th at the Manchester Arena after years of anticipation. However, hopefully, it will not just be the main event that holds interest for Irish fight fans.
With that in mind, irish-boxing.com has put on its speculation hat and made some educated guesses at what Irish boxers could appear on the massive undercard.
Stephen Ormond -v- Anthony Crolla – WBA Lightweight Title
It just makes sense. Rumours are circulating that Al Haymon, adviser to both Frampton and Ormond, has negotiated for the exciting Clondalkin man to appear on the Manchester bill in a World title fight. If this is true, his opponent would surely be Manchester star Crolla [29(11)-4(1)-3] – IF he wins the WBA title on November 21st in his rematch with Colombia’s Darleys Pérez. Crolla, a massive ticket-seller, is well-know to sports fans after his inspiring recovery from a vicious assualt last year, and a second World title bout on the card would ramp up interest and further justify the PPV-status of the bill.
Ormond [20(11)-2(0)] himself would be confident of claiming a scalp against the Englishman. In terms of top level opponents, the pair have both faced Derry Matthews. Ormond scored a brilliant upset victory over the Liverpudlian in 2013, whilst Crolla was defeated via 6th round knockout by the MGM fighter in 2012, before claiming a draw in their rematch the following year.
Frankie Gavin -v- Sam Eggington – British and Commonwealth Welterweight Titles
The Matchroom duo were scheduled to meet for Eggington’s [17(9)-2(0)] titles last month until former Irish champ Gavin was forced to withdraw with a nasty foot injury. An exciting clash of styles between the come-forward ‘Sam the Savage’ and the superb skills of former amateur World Champion Gavin, the fight was already deemed headline material for the Matchroom show in Birmingham last month, and would be a stellar addition to the Frampton-Quigg undercard.
A true 50:50 crossroads battle with Brummie pride on the line, Gavin-Eggington is a near shoo-in for February 27th.
Patrick Hyland/Marco McCullough -v- Josh Warrington
Budget constraints would suggest that any fight featuring Warrington [22(4)-0] would be unlikely to happen if both the above two fights feature on the card – however both Irish featherweights would love a clash with Matchroom’s hugely popular Leeds star. Dubliner Hyland [31(15)-0-1] has long called for the bout, and would certainly get a great reception if he were to walk into the ring in his beloved Manchester United colours.
Cyclone’s McCullough [13(9)-2(1)] will, of course, be focused on his make-or-break fight with Scotland’s Jon Slowey on November 20th, but the exciting Belfast star will surely be motivated by the possibility of another all-or-nothing bout.
Conrad Cummings -v- Luke Keeler – Irish Middleweight Title
While it wouldn’t be Ireland v England, this clash would be the perfect Cyclone v Matchroom scrap. Of course, it would be dependent on Tyrone’s Cummings [7(3)-0] prevailing in his BBBoC Celtic title fight with Alfredo Meli in Belfast on November 20th. Two big punchers who are still in the early stages of their pro careers, it is a potential springboard fight for the winner without being too damaging to the loser, a-la George Groves and James DeGale’s 2011 clash.
While many have talked about a potential massive all-Ulster clash between Jason Quigley and Conrad Cummings down the line, Dubliner Keeler [9(5)-1(0)] would relish the opportunity to upset the apple-cart – and where better to do it than on one of, if not the, biggest cards of the year?
Anto Cacace -v- Martin Joseph Ward – British Super Featherweight Title*
A massive Cyclone-Matchroom, Ireland-England clash. Belfast’s Cacace [13(6)-0] has been described by the McGuigans as the most naturally gifted boxer in the Cyclone stable and the southpaw recently won the BBBoC Celtic title, knocking Ronnie Clark out in the final round of a classy display. Of Irish descent, Ward [12(6)-0-2] is another skilled operator and former elite amateur.
The Leeds boxer is scheduled to fight on the December 12th Matchroom show in London, which may mean that February 27th will come too soon – although the prospect of a British title clash with ‘The Apache’ may offer motivation for a quick turnaround.
If Cacace-Ward can not be made, Cacace against Matchroom’s Dublin starlet Jono Carroll [8(1)-0] is another exciting possibility.
*The British title is currently held by Liam Walsh although it is likely to soon be relinquished as he chases World titles.
Ryan Burnett -v- Ross Burkinshaw – British and Commonwealth Bantamweight Titles
Belfast phenom Burnett [11(9)-0] fights for the British title on his Matchroom debut on November 21st in Manchester against Jason Booth. Should he make the step up and claim the crown, a Commonwealth title shot seems like the next logical move as he quickly builds towards World titles and superstardom.
The rainbow belt is currently held by Jason Cunningham, who recently lost a British super flyweight title fight with Khalid Yafai – and also has a fight scheduled for February 28th. Therefore a fight with former Commonwealth title holder Ross Burkinshaw [14(8)-6(6)-2], who holds a win over Cunningham, would be a perfect fit and another great opportunity for Burnett to exhibit his considerable skills.