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Three thrilling all-Irish fights confirmed for Frampton-Donaire card in Belfast

Two long-running domestic rivalries will be settled in Belfast, while stablemates Jono Carroll and Marco McCullough will also square off in April.

Image: Inpho

THREE DOMESTIC DUST-UPS have been added to the undercard of Carl Frampton’s 21 April bout with four-weight world champion Nonito Donaire at Belfast’s SSE Arena.

MTK Global have this afternoon confirmed that Irish middleweight champion ‘Cool Hand’ Luke Keeler of Dublin [13-2, 5KOs] will square off with Coalisland rival Conrad ‘Dynamite’ Cummings [12-1-1, 5KOs] in a fight long sought-after by both Irish boxing fans and the fighters in question.

Also added to the bill are two Dublin versus Belfast showdowns, as Jono ‘King Kong’ Carroll [15-0, 2KOs] defends his IBF European super-featherweight belt against hometown hero Marco McCullough [18-4, 11KOs], and Phil Sutcliffe Jr [14-2, 9KOs] heads up the M1 to face Tyrone McKenna [15-0-1, 6KOs] in what’s guaranteed to be a reckless encounter.

Conrad Cummings with Roberto Palenzuela Conrad Cummings (right) exchanges shots with Roberto Palenzuela Source: Presseye/William Cherry/INPHO

“It’s great that we’ll finally get it on,” said Cummings, whose battle with Keeler will significantly propel the victor’s career.

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.

‘Cool Hand’ Luke, who may take a warm-up fight prior to his long-awaited clash with Cummings having broken his hand during his last outing, echoed his friendly rival’s sentiments.

“It’s a cracking fight,” he said. “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.”

Stablemates Carroll and McCullough both registered third-round stoppage victories on the undercard of Frampton’s ring return in November, and Finglas’ ‘King Kong’, who has his eyes set on world honours in the next 18 months to two years, is keen to continue his ascent in a potentially thrilling scrap with the former Irish champ.

“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.”

Jono Carroll (red) in action against Johnny Quigley Jono Carroll knocks down unbeaten Liverpudlian Johnny Quigley Source: Presseye/William Cherry/INPHO

McCullough, for whom the bout could prove make-or-break, was enthused by the parochial nature of the undercard on what’s shaping up to be the biggest – and likely best – pro boxing bill this island has ever seen.

“It’ll be a good domestic fight. I’m excited about it,” he said. “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.

Sutcliffe and McKenna last clashed as amateurs in 2012, rendering their professional journeys inextricably linked throughout the intervening six years.

McKenna is no stranger to a Belfast v Dublin slugfest having overcome Dub Jake Hanney by sixth-round stoppage in an out-and-out war last March, and the rangy southpaw couldn’t resist a barb at his stablemate’s expense ahead of what could easily transpire to be the fight of the night in three months’ time.

“It’s a fight that every fan in Ireland wants to see,” he said. “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.

Tyrone McKenna celebrates his win Tyrone McKenna Source: Presseye/William Cherry/INPHO

Sutcliffe, Irish boxing’s ‘quiet man’ with concrete fists, vowed to silence McKenna when the pair finally step to it in the latter’s back yard.

“Tyrone’s got what he’s been shouting about, so we’ll see if he keeps his mouth going,” said the Crumlin man. “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.”

At least two of these domestic dust-ups had been earmarked for Katie Taylor’s homecoming fight in Dublin – originally slated for 14 April – but as The42 revealed exclusively on Monday, an Irish bow for the WBA World lightweight champion is no longer on the cards.

In the main event, Frampton clashes with fellow former World Fighter of the Year Donaire with a view to securing a world title shot of his own – versus the winner of a May scrap between Lee Selby-Josh Warrington – at Windsor Park in August.

Limited tickets remain for Frampton v Donaire and will be available to purchase from the SSE Arena Belfast Box Office, www.ssearenabelfast.com and 0044(0)28 9073 9074. Tickets will also be available from MTK Global fighters on the bill.

Katie Taylor’s Dublin homecoming fight off the cards as America comes calling

Jono Carroll: ‘People don’t realise: without that fight, I wouldn’t have been able to pay next month’s rent’

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