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Carl Frampton

We bring home the medals, but Ulster remains the poor relation in Irish boxing

Carl Frampton


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Michael Conlan celebrates with his gold medal at the 2015 AIBA World Boxing Championships in Doha

Michael Conlan celebrates with his gold medal at the 2015 AIBA World Boxing Championships in Doha

©INPHO/Francis Myers

Paddy Barnes celebrates with his Olympic bronze medal at London 2012

Paddy Barnes celebrates with his Olympic bronze medal at London 2012

©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Wayne McCullough proudly displays his Olympic silver medal at the 1992 Games in Barcelona

Wayne McCullough proudly displays his Olympic silver medal at the 1992 Games in Barcelona

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Michael Conlan celebrates with his gold medal at the 2015 AIBA World Boxing Championships in Doha

It has been disappointing to see yet another fall-out in Irish amateur boxing, but there have been issues since before I was part of Irish teams and also during my time there was friction and rivalries between Ulster and the other three provinces.

Last weekend’s EGM in Roscommon saw proposals for reforms rejected which could lead to funding being cut, but there was also a motion for AGMs to be held in Northern Ireland rejected.

I don’t want to get political, but when you see the number of boxers from up here winning medals, many come from a nationalist background so it can’t be a Northern Ireland against the Republic thing. It just seems, and always did to me, that Ulster boxing gets pushed to the side by those in charge.

Belfast is a boxing hotbed on the island of Ireland and the results down through the years back that up — think Mick Conlan, Paddy Barnes, Wayne McCullough. They were the guys winning medals and yes, there are places outside of Belfast that have produced major medal winners, but Belfast is undoubtedly the hub of boxing and it just comes across that up here is kept out of having any major influence.

During my time as an amateur, I always viewed the IABA’s Central Council as the dinosaurs of the game. They were always having run-ins with the High Performance Unit and everything they were trying to develop there.

There are those who are trying to move the IABA into the 21st century, practically all from Ulster, and they are finding it difficult to move these people with them.

Board of Directors Chairman Ciaran Kirwin and IABA CEO Fergal Carruth backed what the people in Ulster were saying and seemed to agree that they are being a bit short-sighted by what has happened.

It’s always been the way and other fighters from Northern Ireland or even the nine counties of Ulster will say the same, that when you go to boxing in Dublin, you were always a couple of points behind before you started, regardless of your background. That’s just how people from here viewed Championships there — it’s always the same and it seems never-ending.

I was always very proud to represent Ireland and I did so as it was an all-Ireland sport. When I got my first call-up at 13 or 14, I always remember how proud I felt and wore the vest every night I went to training as I was proud to be an international.

People have always asked me about whether I would have liked to represent GB, but as I said about going to Dublin being a point or two behind, imagine being from Northern Ireland and going to England to fight an Englishman to represent GB — it would likely be as bad.

But what happened last weekend was just very disappointing and those involved in boxing in Ulster who feel they are not being heard will take what happened in Roscommon as further evidence that is true.

Derek Chisora taking on Deontay Wilder would be borderline criminal

I always felt that last week’s heavyweight fight between Derek Chisora and Kubrat Pulev would be entertaining, and that’s exactly how it turned out.

It was a close fight and at the end, some scored to Pulev and others to Chisora. I thought it was close and if it was scored a round or two either way, you couldn’t really complain.

Chisora got the win and then began talking about fighting Deontay Wilder. I honestly think it would be borderline criminal if that were allowed to happen.

Although Chisora always gives value for money, there is only so much punishment anyone can take and even looking at his face, he looks quite weathered. His tendency of taking a shot to land his own is exciting for the general public, but if you want to fight Wilder, who is arguably the biggest-punching heavyweight who has ever lived, that style is going to be very dangerous and it could end badly. I couldn’t see that fight going any other way than Chisora getting chinned.

He seems one of those guys who will just continue to fight and while people are applauding him now and the promoters are happy because he doesn’t cost a fortune but does decent numbers on TV as he’s in exciting fights, what happens in five years’ time when Chisora is talking to himself because of the punishment he’s taken? Touch wood that doesn’t happen, but how badly would that reflect on boxing and the people who let him continue to fight?

The rules are the rules and if his brain scans come back clear then it is enough for the Board of Control to let him continue, but the people closest to him need to step in and say that enough is enough.

He’s had a fantastic career, fought all the top guys, always given a good account of himself and hopefully has plenty of money, so he should go and enjoy that with his family.

In the end, it’s Chisora’s choice but you do need those people around you to say enough is enough or even pull out, refusing to be involved in training him or managing him anymore.

You can find others to step in, but you need strong people around you as the fighter can be the last to realise there is nothing left.

I’ve said it before, but Joe Bugner once said that when offered a fight by Mickey Duff for good money: “What’s the point in good money if you can’t count it?”

Maybe Chisora will be like a Jake LaMotta who was in wars that didn’t really affect him too much, but not many get away with that and especially as a heavyweight, he’s taking big shots off big men that take their toll.

Caoimhin Agyarko needs a hometown fight and a good TV slot

It was a very good win for Caoimhin Agyarko against Lukasz Maciec in London last week.

Caoimhin wasn’t the biggest middleweight so stepping down to light-middle looks like a good move, although there is always a concern in the first fight down that you don’t do the weight right and it could take something from you, but he clearly got it spot on.

Although he got caught a few times, his punch resistance was still good despite taking the weight off, although Maciec isn’t the biggest puncher.

It’s a good sign he has kept that durability and it was a good win, so it’s all about moving forward now against the right opponents.

I really want to see him fight at home because that’s where you build a fan base. I don’t think DAZN are doing the numbers they had been hoping for and Caoimhin was fighting pretty early in the night, so the numbers who watched him would not have been great and that doesn’t help to build a career and fan base.

He needs big fights now and in good slots.


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