IRISH boxers pursuing pro careers on this side of the Irish Sea predates the rise of the Gorgeous Gael Jack Doyle in the 1930s.
Britain has always been an important staging post for those with glory in mind. In recent weeks, Barry McGuigan told The Irish Post that TV money and leverage provided by the British fight game was now even more important for a talented conveyor belt of Irish amateurs turning professional.
Currently, the star turn is Carl Frampton but there are others making headlines, established names expected to make more and some exciting new faces…
10. Dean Byrne
Dublin native Byrne is based in east London and has a record of 17 wins, three losses and one defeat. Credited with character allied to being a competitor of some ferocity, he will display his skills in the same Prizefighter competition as Paddy Gallagher in the York Hall.
Next up: Prizefighter April 4
9. Joe Duffy
Another Ulster middleweight from Donegal but based in Islington, Duffy arrived to pro boxing late after putting down a marker as a mixed martial arts competitor.
However he changed tack and reduced his focus to just boxing, for which he has received both praise and criticism. Some believe he has too much to make up, however a record of seven wins and no losses mark him out as one to follow. Unfortunately, Duffy suffered a hand injury before Christmas which has kept him out of the ring.
Next up: More rehab
8. Conrad Cummings
Cummings was overshadowed somewhat in the Irish amateur ranks by Olympian Darren O’Neill and the rise of world silver medallist Jason Quigley. However, his class wasn’t dulled and he shone in the World Series of Boxing last season for the Mexico Guerreros.
Those performances reaffirmed his quality to the already interested McGuigans who have since signed the Tyrone man to their London stable. Already Cummings has made his debut in the York Hall and appears a sure bet to be carried along in Frampton’s slipstream.
Next up: A Barry McGuigan title road-map
7. Ryan Burnett
Trained by Ricky Hatton, Belfast’s Ryan Burnett won a gold medal at the 2010 Youth Olympics and will appear on the Carl Frampton undercard in Belfast on April 4.
Fighting at bantamweight, Burnett missed out on a return trip to Dublin last month following a hand injury. He fought twice in Belfast in 2013 and says he is keen to follow in the footsteps of Frampton.
Next up: More return trips to Belfast look likely in the short term
6. Paddy Gallagher
Those close to the Gallagher camp are unshakeable in their belief the welterweight is a real prospect. Only four fights into his professional career, the Ulster man is a former Commonwealth gold medallist at amateur level with an exciting style and heavy hands.
Victory in the upcoming Prizefighter series is well within his compass and could prove to be career launching.
Next up: Prizefighter April 4
5. Peter McDonagh
A wild card entry but McDonagh recently became a two-weight Irish champion after defeating John Hutchinson for the Irish light middleweight championship in Reading on March 15.
With a record of more losses than wins allied to being an elder statesman on the circuit, the Galwegian has found himself labelled a Cinderella man following recent successes. There’s talk of a fight with former world champion Junior Witter.
Next up: Some more Cinderella stuff but without the fairy-tale ending
4. Andy Lee
The career of the London-based Limerick man has stuttered rather than stalled in recent years. Hailed as a prospect early in his career, Lee left Ireland for Detroit where he was trained by the late great Emanuel Steward in the famed Kronk Gym.
Early career momentum has slowed since he was defeated by Julio Cesar Chavez Jr in 2012. Now trained by Adam Booth, Lee has strung together three victories and could yet appear on the Fury v Chisora undercard on July 26.
Next up: More quiet efficiency might tee-up that title shot
3. Matthew Macklin
The Birmingham-based Irishman is in the autumn of his career and there’s an acute sense his best chance of lifting a world title came and then went when he fought champion Felix Sturm in Germany in 2011 — a bout that many critics felt Macklin won.
Since, he has been defeated in bouts against Sergio Martinez and Gennady Golovkin with recent talk of a possible fight with fellow Irish contender Andy Lee. Macklin’s attention has been spilt over his ambitions to fix a rematch with Sturm.
However, the expectation now is that he will return Stateside to fight again. Despite this there’s a sense that there’s a little drama left in his career yet.
Next up: Some more all-action performances and just maybe another title shot
2. Tyson Fury
Unbeaten in 22 fights, the Manchester Irish fighter is being hailed as a World Champion in waiting. At 6ft 9in, the heavyweight’s towering ring presence is complemented by fast hands and, as one of the biggest personalities in the game he has star appeal.
If Fury beats Dereck Chisora in their eliminator bout scheduled for Manchester’s MEN Arena on July 26, he will secure a title shot against Wladimir Klitschko, possibly before the end of the year. Fury has longed for such an opportunity and has beaten Chisora before. But both have improved since that Wembley Arena bout in 2011.
Next up: Chisora Part II on July 26 at the MEN Arena, Manchester and then Klitschko
1. Carl Frampton
The Belfast super-bantamweight appears to have the world at his feet. An exciting all action-puncher with both class and charisma, Frampton is trained and managed by Barry and Shane McGuigan.
He is also a huge draw, with his home-town fights in Belfast attracting the kind attention and cross community support his manager enjoyed through the 1980s. With Frampton’s camp unable to make a fight with IBF champion Kiko Martinez — who the Belfast man has previously beaten — a re-route has been plotted.
On April 4, former world champion Hugo Cazares arrives in Belfast and if Frampton wins this eliminator in the Odyssey Arena he should face WBC champion Leo Santa Cruz in the late summer.
Next up: Hugo Cazares, Belfast, April 4