Thursday 26 April 2018

Ryan Burnett is our new world champion - Here are five boxers who are proudly flying the Irish flag

Ryan Burnett celebrates with the belt after winning the fight
Ryan Burnett celebrates with the belt after winning the fight

Declan Warrington

Ryan Burnett on Saturday won the IBF bantamweight title from Bristol's Lee Haskins.

The fight scene across Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic is perhaps stronger than it has ever been, thanks to the likes of Burnett and Carl Frampton and the potential of Katie Taylor, Jason Quigley and others.

Here are five of the leading fighters doing the rounds at the moment.

1. Ryan Burnett

The 25-year-old consistently excelled against Haskins on Saturday evening at Belfast's Odyssey Arena, fulfilling his promise and proving himself a world-class fighter. If he continues to build his reputation in his home city, a unification fight against Doncaster's WBA champion Jamie McDonnell could become as big as any Frampton staged there.

2. Carl Frampton

Frampton, 30, lost his WBA featherweight title when in January he lost to Leo Santa Cruz, but he plans to fight for the first time in Belfast since February 2015 on July 29. That narrow defeat was the consequence of using the wrong tactics, but he remains one of Britain's finest and in contention to face Wales' IBF champion Lee Selby, as well for a third fight with Mexico's Santa Cruz.

3. Michael Conlan

The talented Conlan, an Olympic bronze medallist, made his professional debut in March after signing for perhaps the world's leading fight promoters, Top Rank. He is also managed by retired world-title challenger Matthew Macklin, and widely expected to excel. The 25-year-old has so far won each of his two fights inside the distance, and next month travels to Australia to fight Jarrett Owen on the undercard of Manny Pacquiao's fight with Jeff Horn.

4. Paddy Barnes

Two-time Olympic bronze medallist Barnes next week fights at Belfast's Waterfront Hall on the same bill as Conlan's older brother Jamie. Barnes has won each of his fights since turning professional in November, and next meets Romania's Silvio Olteanu. Building the 30-year-old as an attraction remains a priority, but his potential suggests he is another capable of reaching world level.

5. Andy Lee

The former WBO middleweight champion, 33, has fought only once since losing his title to Billy Joe Saunders in December 2015, but as yet he has no plans to retire. The 160lb division could also again become one of opportunity after September's super-fight between Gennady Golovkin and Saul Alvarez, while the fact he trains out of the same gym as Burnett could lead to further chances.

Press Association

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