Three thrilling All-Ireland domestic dust-ups have been confirmed for the undercard of Carl Frampton’s much-anticipated April 21 showdown against Nonito Donaire in Belfast.
Two-weight world champion Frampton will take on four-weight champion Donaire at the SSE Odyssey Arena in one of the most eagerly-awaited bouts to ever take place on Irish soil, live on BT Sport and BoxNation.
The main-event participants are set to meet head to head at Belfast’s Europa Hotel this afternoon (Wednesday) ahead of April’s massive fight date.
And MTK Global and promoter Frank Warren have moved to install an undercard to match the occasion on what is set to be an action-packed bill.
Three all-Irish battles featuring MTK-backed talent have been confirmed so far for the April 21 fight night…
–Dubliner Jono Carroll (15-0, 2KOs) will travel to meet Belfast’s Marco McCullough (18-4, 11KOs) in a 12-round super-featherweight showdown for the IBF European title
-Tyrone McKenna (15-0-1, 6KOs) and light-welterweight rival Philip Sutcliffe Jr (14-2, 9KOs) will clash in another long-awaited all-MTK Belfast v Dublin battle
-And WBO European champion Conrad Cummings (12-1-1) and Irish champion Luke Keeler (13-2, 5KO) go toe to toe in what promises to be an all-action middleweight affair
MTK Global’s Professional Development Coordinator Jamie Conlan believes one of the best pro cards in Irish boxing history is already taking shape.
“These are exactly the type of fights we want to make going forward –good domestic fights that are 50-50 and very difficult to call,” said Conlan. “We have three great all-Irish fights booked already and it’s really shaping up to be a fantastic bill – possibly the best to take place in Belfast and Ireland.”
Both Meath-based Finglas native Carroll and stablemate McCullough will be looking to build on their respective third-round stoppage victories on the ‘Frampton Reborn’ fight bill in Belfast last November with an IBF European strap and a world-ranking boost on the line on April 21.
“I’m buzzing for the fight,” said Carroll. “I had a great win in Belfast last time out and this is another brilliant opportunity. Marco is a lovely lad, but I’m out to get another big win and take another step up the ladder on a massive bill.”
Former Irish champion McCullough believes this will be a crossroads bout in his career as he looks to claim an IBF belt and rebuild towards British title contention and beyond.
“It’ll be a good domestic fight, I’m excited about it,” said McCullough. “A win would put me straight back into the mix for titles. Jono has really improved over the last year or so and both of us have a bit of power, so it’ll be a cracking fight. It’s nearly like a Belfast v Dublin undercard, so I’d say it’ll be a great atmosphere.”
The light-welterweight meeting of McKenna and Sutcliffe has been in the making for some time, with the rivals having been continually linked since clashing as amateurs back in 2012.
They will now finally meet in the pro ranks on April 21 in a bout that is sure to have Irish and UK fight fans on the edge of their seats.
“It’s a fight that every fan in Ireland wants to see,” said McKenna. “It’s one I’ve wanted for a long time and I fully believe I’m going to win. Phil Sutcliffe is saying I’m avoiding him, but now it’s finally happening and I’m delighted. It’s the two top light-welters in the country and it’s very exciting.”
After some heated words in recent times, Sutcliffe is keen to silence his rival.
“Tyrone’s got what he’s been shouting about, so we’ll see if he keeps his mouth going,” said Sutcliffe. “If he wants to talk then let him talk. I do my talking in the ring. I’m friends with everyone, especially lads on my team, but this is business and I’ll go in there and get the job done.”
The middleweight clash of Tyrone’s Cummings and Dublin’s Keeler seems sure to be a barnburner and while the fighters paid respect towards each other, both have predicted an early finish.
“It’s great that we’ll finally get it on,” said Cummings. “This is a tasty fight and I think it’s one the public will really get their teeth into. Luke’s a brilliant boxer and a fellow Irishman – he’s always in good fights and so am I, so it will be entertaining however long it lasts. I’m really up for it.”
Echoing those sentiments, Keeler said: “It’s a cracking fight. A lot of people have been talking about it and there should be great interest. I’m feeling great and training has been going really well, so I can’t wait to get in there.”
Frampton and Donaire will come head to head at this afternoon’s (Wednesday’s) press conference in Belfast, with a limited amount of tickets still available ahead of their April 21 fight night.
Further undercard announcements will be made in the coming weeks.
Tickets for Frampton v Donaire will be available to purchase from the SSE Arena Belfast Box Office, www.ssearenabelfast.com and 0044(0)28 9073 9074. Prices range from £40 (tier) to £400 (inner-ring hospitality). Tickets will also be available from MTK Global fighters on the bill.