Michael Conlan is tipped to not just win a World Title, but establish himself as one of Ireland’s greatest ever fighters.
The Belfast hero has already proven himself as one of his country’s greatest amateurs and continues his professional progression in a 10 round Featherweight fight against Ruben Garcia Hernandez on Sunday 17th March, live on BoxNation.
Here, BoxNation pundit Steve Lillis reveals his ‘Magnificent Seven’ Irish male professional boxers of the last 50 years.
7) CHARLIE NASH
[Image credit: Independent News and Media/Getty Images]
One of the finest Irish boxers never to win a World Title and who as an amateur made it to the 1972 Olympic quarter-finals. In December 1979 he defeated British great Ken Buchanan on points in a European Lightweight Title fight to set up a challenge against Scotland’s Jim Watt three months later.
Watt had refused to travel to Derry to face Nash when he was European Champion, and was stripped. Nash went to Glasgow to challenge for Watt’s WBC belt. Charlie dropped Watt in the first round, and the Champion was arguably saved by the bell but rallied to stop Nash in the fourth.
6) ANDY LEE
The wildly exciting southpaw who retired last year has thrilled us so often on BoxNation with heart stopping wins.
Who can forget him knocking out John Jackson in June 2014 when he was all but out, and upsetting Matt Korobov later that year to win the WBO Super-Middleweight Title?
It was a real life Rocky story but the London-born boxer's reign came to an end in 2015, losing his title on points to Billy Joe Saunders after being dropped twice in the third.
5) BARRY MCGUIGAN
He wasn’t just a boxing great, but a man who brought Ireland together during the Troubles whenever he boxed.
McGuigan beat Panamanian legend, Eusebio Pedraza in a fairy tale night at QPR football stadium in June 1985 that has gone down in Emerald Isle boxing folklore.
As famous as that WBA Featherweight Title win was him wilting in the 120 degree Las Vegas desert heat over 15 rounds when he lost his crown to Steve Cruz a year later.
4) WAYNE MCCULLOUGH
He had a remarkable amateur career in boxing, carrying the Irish flag at the 1988 Olympics and four years later winning a silver medal in Barcelona.
‘The Pocket Rocket’s’ WBC Bantamweight triumph in Japan against Yasuei Yakushiji is one of Irish boxing’s greatest wins on the road.
He only made two winning defences, but had ridiculous toughness and lasted the distance in World Championship challenges against Naseem Hamed, Erik Morales and Scott Harrison.
3) DAVE MCAULEY
His IBF Flyweight Title triumph in London against unbeaten Duke McKenzie is one of the boxing’s forgotten great wins. McAuley had made his name in two savage losses against Fidel Bassa and Mickey Duff made a rare mistake believing he was damaged goods.
The Larne chef made five successful defences, the best a 10th round KO of ‘Baby’ Jake Matlala in September 1991.
2) CARL FRAMPTON
Frampton is Northern Ireland’s only two-weight World Champion, winning belts at Super-Bantamweight and Featherweight.
He will make what is likely to be a final World Title assault this year following December’s defeat against IBF Champion Josh Warrington in an epic battle.
His finest hour came when he successfully beat Leo Santa Cruz in a WBA Super World Featherweight Title challenge in July 2016. He lost a return and craves a rubber meeting that would be big business.
1) STEVE COLLINS
‘The Celtic Warrior’ learned his pro trade in the United States before truly making his name globally.
Collins was undoubtedly one of the fiercest competitors of any generation and loved to get under opponents skin, spooking Chris Eubank by pretending he was hypnotised when they boxed.
It worked a treat ending the Brighton braggart’s reign as WBO Super-Middleweight Champion in 1995. He made seven successful defences including a repeat points triumph over Eubank and two victories against Nigel Benn.