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TALKING BELFAST

By Frank Warren

OUR FRIDAY NIGHT in Belfast showed me that we have a new, dynamic and highly talented crop of young fighters currently on the Queensberry production line.

As I have stated numerous times over many years, our business model and promotional philosophy is all about development. Without blooding the youngsters and giving them the necessary experience you do not end up with the stars that win world titles or get the chance to earn life-changing money in Saudi Arabia.

To successfully achieve this, you have to work from the bottom up and provide these young fighters with a showcase from which they can flourish. We always deliver the opportunities and some grasp them and graduate with flying colours, some unfortunately don’t. That is simply the nature of boxing. It is a tough, tough old sport and it is not for everybody.

Ireland, as a whole, is rich in potential for use and hopefully there will be plenty of return visits that will enable our Irish contingent to prosper in front of their own people. There is a clear passion for the sport there, no doubt about that.

Our show on Friday at the SSE Arena was built purely around young fighters without a big name headliner, but we are happy to play a longer game in this respect because creating headliners takes time.

The career of Carl Frampton, for instance, launched with a four-rounder in the intimate surroundings of Olympia in Liverpool, before moving onto Middlesbrough, Edinburgh, London and Huddersfield, before he introduced himself properly to his native Belfast as a professional.

It wasn’t until his 11th fight that he got to perform at what was then known as the Odyssey Arena, which he went on to make his spiritual home.

On Friday, Conor Quinn and Colm Murphy got to fight there for a second time, James McGivern for the first time and, although Pierce O’Leary and Steven Cairns are from Dublin and Cork respectively, they will have relished performing there all the same.

Obviously things didn’t go to plan for young Conor as our headline act and I know he is hugely disappointed. However, it is not the end of the road and I am sure ‘The Magnificent’ will shine again and fulfil his potential.

He was probably just unlucky to come up against a very tricky and talented opponent in the English champion Conner Kelsall, who just outsmarted him on the night. It is a big truism in boxing in that if you take 50-50 fights, they are not all going to go your way. But the experience will be invaluable.

Pierce did the business against a rugged customer in Darragh Foley and demonstrated that he is ready to be pitched in at a higher level. I’d have no hesitation whatsoever in putting him in with any of the Brit Pack at super lightweight, which would no doubt be an appealing proposition for fans.

I was impressed with the ‘Posh Boy’ Colm Murphy, who had a very entertaining scrap with Jack Turner for the Commonwealth Silver title at featherweight, which will be good currency for him moving forward.

I also took note of the spectacular knockout executed by James McGivern in his Celtic title fight against a previously unbeaten opponent. He certainly knows how to make himself noticed!

Steven Cairns was equally spectacular on his Queensberry debut with body shot timed to perfection bringing an end to his fight in less than a minute.

Jadier Herrera showed that he is going to be a ferocious prospect for anyone at super featherweight. He took out an 11-1 opponent in just over a 100 seconds and looks to have that star quality about him. Jack Turner, the Scouse one, also looked formidable and I am very much looking forward to progressing the careers of these two from the Rotunda Gym.

Joe Cooper was impressive on debut and did very well considering he has been out of the ring from the age of 16, while Eoghan Lavin also showed his class and pedigree. Nicola Barke and the debut-making Walter Fury banked valuable rounds of experience that will be key to their progression.

So overall I was very satisfied and impressed with what is largely a new intake of young fighters and the conveyor belt of talent is showing no signs of slowing down.

THE DATE OF September 21 is no doubt etched in the minds of sports fans now that the media launch was completed last week.

The card really is something else and pretty much unprecedented, which is a word we seem to use a lot when describing Riyadh Season events.

This one is the Wembley Stadium Edition featuring six all-British fights, which will make it a very, very special night.

This is boom time for the sport of boxing and it is only the beginning.


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