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BACK TO BELFAST ON FRIDAY

By Frank Warren

I AM DELIGHTED to be back promoting in the famous fight city of Belfast on Friday developing our next generation of Irish fighters.

Aside from a co-promotion featuring a number of our fighters last year, this will be our first proper bash in Belfast since our Carl Frampton heydays in and around 2017.

Now the Jackal is stationed on the safe side of the ropes offering up his expert opinions for TNT Sports and has been instrumental in recommending who we should be keeping tabs on from his home city.

One of those he gave his seal of approval to, Conor Quinn, co-headlines on Friday in a cracking little scrap for the Commonwealth flyweight title. The undefeated puncher Conor, with six stoppages in his nine wins, goes up against decorated former amateur and 11-0 English champion Conner Kelsall.

It is a breakout night for both of these young men and, with the flyweight division typically not bursting at the seams with genuine contenders, the winner can really crack on and become a big noise amongst the little men.

On the other side of the headline act, our super lightweight hope Pierce O’Leary gets to fight a bit closer to home in what should be a barnstormer against the Irish-Aussie Darragh Foley, who has been a fairly frequent visitor to UK and Ireland shows.

Currently sitting at 14-0, Pierce is poised to strike in what is quickly becoming one of the more fashionable divisions both at home and internationally. There are so many good fights that can be made if Pierce continues to progress as we expect him to.

Just look at the landscape in this country. There is Jack Catterall closing in on world titles again, Dalton Smith making big moves having just relinquished his British title and more senior campaigners in Josh Taylor and Ohara Davies. Then you’ve got our young man Henry Turner, who has just been mandated to fight for the vacant British title against Jack Rafferty.

Pierce is defending his WBC International title for a fourth time against Foley and is not miles off the big names on the world scene like Isaac Cruz and Teofimo Lopez. He isn’t there yet but he is fast closing in.

The main events are supported by some cracking title action featuring Belfast boys, with James McGivern defending his Celtic lightweight belt against the undefeated Welshman Rashid Omar and Colm Murphy fighting for the Commonwealth Silver title against the Scot Jack Turner.

These young fighters are being given the chance to shine and make a big impression so that return visits to Belfast become a must.

The rest of the card makes for fascinating viewing for me personally, with no fewer than eight new or recent signings being on parade and getting the Belfast experience.

We’ve got the two formidable prospects from the Rotunda Gym in Liverpool, which is home to bantamweight Jack Turner and super featherweight Jadier Herrera. Jack has had five fights and five first round stoppages, with his ring time amounting to not much more than 10 minutes. Jadier is a really interesting one, a Cuban southpaw with a record of 14-0 and 12 KOs. I am sure he will make the super featherweights sit up and take notice.

The 7-0 lightweight Steven Cairns from Cork makes his first appearance under the Queensberry banner, with Ballyhaunis middleweight Eoghan Lavin – a superstar as an amateur – having his second fight.

Others making their first appearance are exciting 3-0 welterweight Nelson Birchall and 4-0 welterweight Nicola Barke is a welcome addition to our female ranks. And we have two professional debuts, with highly touted former amateur star Joe Cooper introducing himself at middleweight, plus Tyson Fury’s cousin Walter Fury doing likewise at welterweight.

I am anticipating a top evening of boxing with a traditional Belfast atmosphere at the SSE Arena and the action begins on TNT Sports at 7pm on Friday.


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