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Pro boxing returns to Irish terrestrial TV after seven-year hiatus

TG4 will bring pro boxing back to Irish screens on 3 March.

PROFESSIONAL BOXING IN Ireland has received a further shot in the arm with confirmation that March’s Last Man Standing tournament at the National Stadium will be broadcast live on TG4.

The pro game has struggled to retain a foothold south of the border since the heady days of Bernard Dunne at the turn of the decade, with RTÉ subsequently withdrawing from the sport in 2011 for financial reasons.

Incidentally, it was TG4 who last dipped their toes in the professional ring in Ireland; their broadcast of Henry Coyle’s victory over Elio Cotena in August of 2011 was the last live pro boxing shown on free-to-air television in this country.

RTÉ showed delayed highlights of Michael Conlan’s first two professional bouts in 2017 – this partially due to a stipulation in Conlan’s contract with Top Rank which grants him final say on Irish TV coverage whenever he headlines a card – but TG4 will break the duck where live coverage is concerned on 3 March.

It’s understood that former WBO World middleweight champion Andy Lee and 2012 Olympic silver medalist Ken Egan will join an as-of-yet unconfirmed commentator in the TG4 booth at the Stadium in less than six weeks’ time, with commentary being provided as Béarla on the Irish-language network.

Lee, who recently joined Off The Ball in an official capacity, has emerged over the past 12 months as one of the top sports pundits in the country. His co-commentary debut on Sky Sports during Ryan Burnett’s world-title unification bout versus Zhanat Zhakiyanov in October was rapturously received by viewers.

10-time Irish champion Egan was part of the selection committee for March’s competition, and has provided boxing analysis on RTÉ Television over the past two Olympic Games.

Kenny Egan and Andy Lee Long-time friends and former Irish team-mates Ken Egan (left) and Andy Lee (right) will provide expert analysis on 3 March. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

A joint venture between Red Corner Promotions and Assassin Promotions, Last Man Standing – the total prize fund for which is almost €60,000 – is a straight-knockout, Prizefighter-style tournament and will the first of its kind to be held in Ireland.

Eight Irish middleweights will do battle for the €25,000 winner’s cheque as well as a further €5,000 for their amateur boxing club.

There will be a knockout bonus of €1,000 as well as staggered purses for runners-up (€5,000), semi finalists (€2,000), and quarter finalists (€1,000).

Defeated semi-finalists and quarter-finalists will be rewarded with an additional €500 for their respective amateur clubs, with the overall runner-up earning €1,000 for his grassroots facility on top of a €5,000-plus-bonuses personal cheque.

The lineup currently consists of Chris Blaney, Bernard Roe, Alfredo Meli, Sean McGlinchey and Roy Sheahan, with three more contestants set to be announced in the coming weeks.

A tantalising all-Dublin Irish light-middleweight title fight between Craig O’Brien and Jay Byrne will also feature as part of TG4′s live broadcast.

Roy Sheahan: ‘I’m only coming off a building site since Saturday… But I’m not taking time off work to lose’

Mick Conlan: ‘Any shows where I’m the main event, RTÉ can – and will – have them, no matter what’

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