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Pro boxing returns to Irish TV as lineup for big-money 'Last Man Standing' tournament revealed

‘The Western Warrior’ is back, and he could end up facing an Irish amateur legend and pro debutant.

THE EIGHT PARTICIPANTS for March’s Last Man Standing professional boxing tournament were named at a press conference today, but a tantalising lineup leaves Irish boxing fans truly none the wiser as to who will earn the lion’s share of the €50,000 prize fund.

Meath’s Chris ‘The Ginja Ninja’ Blaney (9-0, 3KOs), Dublin’s Bernard Roe (6-0, 1KO), Belfast’s Pádraig ‘The Hammer’ McRory (2-0, 1KO), Derry’s Sean ‘Mummy’s Bhoy’ McGlinchey (2-0), Belfast’s Alfredo ‘Fredo’ Meli (14-0-1, 3KOs), Kildare’s Roy Sheahan (debut), Dublin’s Thomas Finnegan (2-0) and Mayo’s Henry ‘The Western Warrior’ Coyle (19-2, 12KOs) will do battle in a Prizefighter format at Dublin’s National Stadium on 3 March.

Christopher Blaney in action against Sean McGlinchey Chris Blaney and Sean McGlinchey clashed in the 2015 Senior semis as amateurs; will they meet again as pros? Ryan Byrne / INPHO Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

The groundbreaking competition, co-promoted by Red Corner Promotions and Assassin Promotions, is the first of its kind to be held in Ireland, and will see the eight Irish middleweights 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.

The promoters confirmed at today’s press conference that the straight-knockout tournament will be broadcast live on Irish terrestrial television, with confirmation of the exact network imminent. Last Man Standing will be the first professional boxing to be broadcast live on domestic TV in Ireland since 2011.

Among the ‘surprises’ in March’s middleweight lineup is Irish amateur legend Roy Sheahan of Athy, who will make his professional debut in February in order to qualify for the tournament in the eyes of the Boxing Union of Ireland. The four-time Irish Senior Elite champion is currently ineligible to box professionally due to recent inactivity, and must prove his fitness to the board.

Geesala’s Coyle, meanwhile, who relocated to Chicago on turning professional over 10 years ago, makes his ring return after a four-year sabbatical, and is the most experienced competitor by a distance if not necessarily the favourite in what’s a talent-stacked field. He will fight in Mexico next month due to his being in a similar predicament to Sheahan.

Henry Coyle celebrates winning is fight with fans Henry Coyle returns from the boxing abyss in March Cathal Noonan / INPHO Cathal Noonan / INPHO / INPHO

The draw will take place a week before first bell.

March’s introduction to the concept will be the first of three scheduled Last Man Standing tournaments to take place in the Stadium in 2018.

As well as the sizeable prize money on offer, the winner will become the mandatory challenger for ‘Cool Hand’ Luke Keeler’s Irish middleweight title.

On the tournament’s undercard, Irish light-heavyweight champion Paddy McDonagh, who beat Keeler’s former gym-mate Steve Collins Jr for the green strap at the same venue last June, returns to the Stadium to defend his title versus David Bailey.

Also confirmed to feature on the bill are Craig O’Brien, Vladimir Belujsky and Victor Rabei.

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

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