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Ranking The 12 Hottest Prospects In Irish Boxing

Ranking The 12 Hottest Prospects In Irish Boxing
By Gavan Casey Updated

With a world title fight in front of 34,000 fans in Thomond Park to look forward to in September, and big time boxing's recently televised resurgence in the nation's capital, the sweet science is once again beginning to thrive in Ireland. And it only took two world champions in Andy Lee and Carl Frampton, along with a number of sensational medal hauls by Ireland's world class amateur stars to get here.

As the sport continues to rebuild on these shores, a number of talented professional prospects are beginning to make noise. Here are 12 Irish boxers to keep an eye out for in the coming months:

12) Steve Collins Jr

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2uqJF8UB0KE

Age: 25

Division: Light-heavyweight

Record: 5-0-1

Keen to free himself from the shackles of his 'Son of Legend' status, Collins Jr - a former Landsdowne front row forward - has lost 50 lbs since turning professional, and will likely carry more power within his newly-sculpted 175lb frame.

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'The Wolf' notched his first stoppage victory with a TKO2 of Victor Szalai back in February, and is aiming for a September return after recent injuries.

11) Conrad Cummings

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=37skT2ICQsM

Age: 24

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Division: Middleweight

Record: 7-0 (3KOs)

'Dynamite' Cummings trains alongside IBF super-bantamweight champ Carl Frampton, and holds amateur victories over two Olympic silver-medallists.

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The Coalisland puncher walked through Mexican Oscar Riojas in two rounds on Frampton's undercard in El Paso last weekend.

10) John Joe Nevin

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mFdngbnq73k

Age: 26

Division: Lightweight

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Record: 3-0 (2KOs)

Talent-wise, he could be no.1. Here's the thing about 2012 Olympic silver medallist John Joe Nevin; he's the most naturally gifted fighter Ireland has ever produced - and yes, that absolutely does include our interim UFC featherweight champion.

It will count for nothing if he continues down the path he has recently trodden.

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The courage he displayed in rebounding from a double leg break in just six months, and his subsequently dazzling display at the 3Arena in November, has been nullified by recent out-of-ring escapades and legal trouble. Now inactive for 9 months, Nevin will once more need to prove he has the mettle to fulfil his legitimate world class potential, starting with less Mullingar scuffles and more Mullingar shuffles.

9) Luke Keeler

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LyijrcBDvs4

Age: 28

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Division: Middleweight

Record: 8-1 (5KOs)

'Cool Hand' Luke's sole defeat can be taken with a pinch of salt. Carrying a broken hand, he was edged out over 3 rounds in February's Prizefighter tournament. He was still signed by Eddie Hearn and Matchroom Promotions, which will provide his exciting style with a hard-to-come-by Sky Sports platform.

Training out of the Celtic Warrior Gym under the guidance of Paschal Collins, and sparring alongside Cork KO artist Spike O'Sullivan, the teak-tough Dub's warrior-like approach and paradoxically amicable personality could yet see him become a star in a stacked Irish middleweight division.

A potential showdown with the aforementioned Conrad Cummings would take the roof off any indoor venue in Britain or Ireland.

8) Declan Geraghty

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EEYsU44YC7o

Age: 25

Division: Lightweight

Record: 8-1 (2KOs)

Like Keeler, 'Pretty Boy's only loss can be assigned an asterisk. The stylish Dub was ahead on the cards against rival Jono Carroll before illegal use of the ol' ceann saw him disqualified from what was the undoubted Irish fight of the year in 2014.

The two-time senior national champion's rangy southpaw stance and slick switch-hitting style impressed the BoxNation pundits at the National Stadium earlier this month, and if he can curb his enthusiasm for a balls-to-the-wall tear-up, the former Crumlin BC standout has a massive future in the sport.

7) Tommy McCarthy

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6vJM92YJonk

Age: 24

Division: Cruiserweight

Record: 5-0 (5KOs)

The real Thomas the Tank Engine. A former two-time Irish heavyweight champion and World no.9, the Belfast beast's switch to the professional ranks was considered a massive loss for Ireland ahead of Rio 2016.

McCarthy puts his 100% KO record to the test in Belfast on the first of August when he takes on the 19-7 Courtney Fry. Fry is a former Commonwealth gold medallist and Olympian, and fought the legendary Roy Jones last year.

So how does a five-fight novice plan on dealing with him?

Belfast's Jamaican descendant told our friends at Irish Boxing, "I'd love to get an aul' knockout."

6) Ryan Burnett

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WN38r2yPCQs

Age: 23

Division: Bantamweight

Record: 10-0 (8KOs)

A former World No.1 at youth level, Burnett amassed a record of 94 victories and 4 defeats in an amateur career that saw him win respective silver and gold medals at the World Youth Championships and Youth Olympics in 2010.

After leaving Ricky Hatton's stable last year, the Belfast Boy teamed up with WBO World middleweight champion Andy Lee and trainer Adam Booth.

Burnett registered a first round stoppage in Brooklyn's famed Barclays Center on the undercard of Lee's draw with Peter Quillin back in April, before a TKO2 in Dublin earlier this month. There's every chance we'll see him continue the glittering start to his professional career in Thomond Park this September.

5) Jamie Kavanagh

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h8fOJQmSdXM

Age: 25

Division: Lightweight

Record: 18-1-1 (9KOs)

Jamie Kavanagh recently announced he had turned down a lucrative contract extension from Oscar De La Hoya's Golden Boy Promotions and decided to move to the London, closer to his family, having spent his entire professional career Stateside.

After three years of sparring the likes of Manny Pacquiao and Amir Khan in Freddie Roach's Wildcard Gym, 'The Nuisance' suffered his first defeat by stoppage in 2013 after six consecutive fights without the obviously busy Roach in his corner. He relocated to Indio, California last year and rebounded with three victories under new trainer Joel Diaz - two inside the distance against vastly more experienced opponents.

Now a father to his self-described 'little nuisance,' Kavanagh will bring his Americanised fighting style - and fluent Spanish - to a bustling UK and Irish lightweight scene that includes fellow Dub Stephen Ormond along with Anthony Crolla, Ricky Burns and WBO champion Terry Flanagan.

4) Hughie Fury

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lVREqGRdXJQ

Age: 20

Division: Heavyweight

Record: 14-0 (8KOs)

Younger cousin to Tyson, who challenges Wladimir Klitschko in October, Manchester's Hughie Fury amassed a record of 9-0 (6KOs) before he turned 19.

Widely regarded to be more athletically gifted than his controversial cousin, Fury - of Irish traveller heritage - saw his rapid ascent come to a grinding halt in 2014 due to a long illness, before rebounding this year with an impressive points win over then once-defeated prospect Andriy Rudenko in Monaco, and his second win of the year last weekend.

'The Fist of' Fury has long been touted as a potential heavyweight world champion, and an inevitable showdown with Anthony Joshua will probably break records in two or three years' time. Until then, the 6-foot-6 20-year-old will continue to sharpen his already finely-tuned array of shots, and develop even more power as he continues to grow into his frame.

3) Philip Sutcliffe Jr

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EpLwFFZmD0k

Age: 26

Division: Light-welterweight

Record: 8-0 (6KOs)

Another former national champion, Sutcliffe spent over two years sparring current UFC Interim featherweight champ and fellow Crumlin resident Conor McGregor in his father's gym. Indeed, it is this sparring and boxing coaching from Philip Senior that McGregor himself heralds as the basis of his immense striking ability in the octagon. Speaking in June, McGregor told Kevin Byrne of the Irish Sun:

Phil Sutcliffe [Sr] is a phenomenal boxing coach and in my time under Phil in Crumlin Boxing Club, I learned so many fundamentals that I still carry with me today. I learned so many shots off Phil and the coaching staff down there, and the sparring with Phil Sutcliffe Jnr in my early days was phenomenal - it got me to that next level I feel.

Sutcliffe Jr certainly packs a whack, stopping his first five opponents before hand injuries stifled his rapid ascent to no.1 in the Irish 140lb rankings. After an impressive distance victory over the never-stopped Frenchman Yoann Portailler back in May, the talented puncher returns this Saturday, looking to continue his momentum on the same card as Tommy McCarthy in Belfast.

2) Jono Carroll

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3a3pIGV5CHE

Age: 23

Division: Super-featherweight

Record: 8-0 (1KO)

At 8pm on the 6th of December last year, Dunshaughlin's Jono Carroll walked into the Prizefighter ring, live on Sky Sports, as an undefeated three-fight novice following his terrific scrap with Declan Geraghty (who, due to his victory the previous month, Caroll had replaced in the tournament).

At 11pm, he walked out as a 6-0 Prizefighter champion, with consecutive victories over a former European champion and the current British champion. Oh, and a cheque for £32,000.

Carroll was immediately signed to Eddie Hearn's Matchroom promotions and has since moved down from lightweight to super-feather, winning twice in 2015. Just watch his interview after his Prizefighter victory (in the video above) and try to convince us he doesn't have star quality. More importantly, he has the skills to match.

1) Jason Quigley

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cl56G0y5C44

Age: 24

Division: Middleweight

Record: 7-0 (7KOs)

After quickfire European gold and World silver medals in 2013, Donegal middleweight sensation Jason Quigley was quickly snatched up by Oscar De La Hoya and Golden Boy.

The concrete-fisted 24-year old currently resides 8,000km west of his native Ballybofet, but has torn the California club boxing scene asunder - amassing a cult following from all backgrounds while notching seven straight stoppage wins in his first seven fights as a professional. And yet it's not just his opponents who he tends to catch cold...

Quigley returns to the ring in two weekends' time, having fought as recently as July 11th, and will also be seeking a spot on the undercard of Miguel Cotto's superfight with Canelo Alvarez in November.

As De La Hoya pointed out after signing Donegal's own Golden Boy last year,

It also doesn’t hurt that he has the great nation of Ireland behind him, and I know they will support him wherever he goes.

Other big names to look out for in 2015 and beyond include former Irish and WBO European featherweight champ Marco McCullough (Belfast, 12-1, 8KOs), light-middleweight Dee Walsh who returns in October (Belfast, 12-0, 5KOs) super-featherweight Anthony Cacace (Belfast, 12-0, 5KOs), Portlaoise's Aussie-based super-bantamTJ Doheny (12-0, 8KOs) and Romford's three Upton brothers - Paul, Anthony and Sonny - who are all signed to Ricky Hatton in the UK.

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