CHIEF support at the Europa on Saturday night will see Munster rivals Kevin Cronin and Jamie Morrissey tangle over eight rounds for the vacant BUI Celtic light-heavyweight title.
Both men are unbeaten with Limerick’s Morrissey aiming to become a two-weight champion ion just his fifth pro fight having previously defeated Ben McGivern for the super-middleweight version, but his Kerry rival will have plenty to say as he puts his perfect five-fight record on the line in what could be yet another classic domestic dust-up.
Also in action on Saturday are Gerard Hughes and David Ryan who both face into their second professional outings, facing Sean Jackson at super-bantamweight and Marek Laskowski and light-welterweight respectively.
South Belfast featherweight, Colm Murphy, enjoyed an excellent 2022 when he won and successfully defended his BUI Celtic featherweight title and he will get the wheels in motion for a new year on Saturday’s card in a non-title fight against John Spencer.
His gym-mate, Owen O’Neill is also aiming to build on what was an incredible end to last year when he produced the knockout of the year in the fight of the year against Cavan’s Owen Duffy to take the BUI Celtic light-middleweight title.
The popular North Belfast man’s exploits drew the attention of Chris Eubank Jr who drafted him in as a sparring partner ahead of his recent fight against Liam Smith and that experience has put an added spring in his step as he aims to build on his 10-0 record this weekend against Josh Cook.
“I was over just before Christmas and again after, sparred 28 rounds all in, so the year has started on high when I was invited back to spar him,” he said.
“I went over on my own and when I went into the gym, I didn’t know anyone. Ronnie Davies came over and asked who I was with and when I said I was on my own, he said: 'You’re a typical Belfast man - balls of steel’.
“That was some buzz, but then it’s only sparring and I have to realise I have my own career to focus on and this week I’m looking to kick on this year with a win and get out again at soon as possible. My mum is getting married in May, so I’d like two fights before then.”
https://t.co/5nKrBLaGtF Last 4 Inner Ringside available for Sat Night 👇👇👇👇— Mark H Dunlop (@MARKHDUNLOP) February 1, 2023
The win against Duffy, televised live on TG4, has seen O’Neill’s stock rise considerably and the recent revival of Irish derbies has helped boost the profile of those involved considerably.
Although he faces international opposition in a non-title bout on Saturday, the lure of further domestic showdowns appeal and the confidence gained from the manner of his win against Duffy has helped him prove to himself that he can battle back from adversity and find answers when tough questions are asked.
“I think I’ve watched that knockout about a thousand times by now.,” He revealed.
“Big respect to Owen Duffy too because I didn’t think he would come straight out and go for it like that. I thought it would be me putting the pressure on him, but he came out throwing bombs and it made it an amazing fight.
“He rocked me a couple of times, but that proved I can go to that dark place and come back to get a knockout win.
“The whole Eubank thing probably stemmed from that. I don’t expect Chris was watching that fight, but his team maybe saw how I boxed and the offer came in.
“I want to kickstart this year with a win that moves me to 11-0 and push on. This isn’t a domestic fight so the plan is to come through this with a win and no injuries so I can get out again straight away.
“I was always nervous about taking domestic fights. After the Duffy fight, we’ve become friends even through I’ve always respected him, but they are the fights that people want to see.”