Top 5 Irish Boxers of All Time
Ireland has a rich tradition of producing great boxers stretching back many years. As we edge closer to Saint Patrick’s Day, we at Big Fight Weekend wanted to pay homage to the Top 5 Irish boxers of all time. We looked at many Irish pugilists, from Mike McTigue in the 1920s to the more modern-day warriors such as Andy Lee and Wayne McCullough.
5 of the Best Irish Boxers of All Time
During Barry McGuigan‘s career, the battle between Unionists and Republicans raged on in Ireland. He was a beacon of hope during a tough time for the country. McGuigan had an entire nation behind him for his fight against Eusebio Pedroza. “The Clones Cyclone” won a unanimous decision and was crowned the WBA world featherweight champion. Pedroza was dragged through a war by McGuigan, who ensured his opponent’s long reign as champion was over.
Later in his career, McGuigan was beaten by Steve Cruz and Jim McDonnell, which saw the Irishman retire with a 32-3 record, with 28 KOs. His record and the hope he offered a nation, ensured “The Clones Cyclone” will go down in history as one of the Top 5 Irish Boxers of all time.
Carl “The Jackal” Frampton enjoyed a fantastic career winning 28 of his 31 fights. Frampton had a successful amateur career winning 114 of his fights and losing only 11 times.
His professional career was full of memorable moments. Two wins over Kiko Martinez and a win over Scott Quigg were clear highlights. Frampton won the WBA super featherweight title with a brilliant performance against Leo Santa Cruz, which saw the Irishman win by majority decision. “The Jackal”s accuracy stood out in this fight, landing 36 percent of punches to his opponents 25 percent. Despite being stopped in his final fight against Jamel Herring, Frampton will undoubtedly go down as one of Ireland’s greatest boxers.
Jack “Nonpareil” Dempsey possessed a fearsome reputation winning 51 of 67 fights, only losing four times. “Nonpareil” was a nickname given to Dempsey because he had a reputation of being unbeatable. Despite losing four times, he was a fearsome individual. Rumours were rife that two of his defeats to Billy Baker were fixed bouts.
— Boxing History (@BoxingHistory) December 15, 2022
He was born in Ireland but forged his reputation fighting in America. Earl Gustkey wrote in the Los Angeles Times: “To a generation of American boxing followers, he was a fighter who first demonstrated that boxing can be performed as art, with style, grace and athleticism.” Dempsey was one of the first to show boxing as an art, where you hone your skillset. His legacy as one of Ireland’s greatest boxers will live on.
Jimmy McLarnin was an Irish professional boxer, born in County Down before moving to Canada at three years old. He went on to have a memorable career, becoming a two-time welterweight world champion.
He won 55 of 69 fights, and ended his career at Madison Square Garden, beating Lou Ambers via unanimous decision. Ending a career on a winning note is often a rare occurrence in the boxing world. Baby Face was never tempted to return to the ring and retired at 28 years old. McLarnin was a brilliant boxer who defeated 13 world champions during his career, making his CV stand up against the very best.
Steve “The Celtic Warrior” Collins enjoyed a successful amateur career amassing an impressive record of 82-8.
Collins suffered his first defeat against Mike McCallum in only his 16th fight. The Irishman lost by unanimous decision, but he showed his vast potential and bravery, which would ultimately push him on to greater glory. Following two back-to-back losses to Reggie Johnson and Sambu Kalambay, Collins was never to suffer defeat again. “The Celtic Warrior” memorably defeated Chris Eubank and Nigel Benn twice during the mid-1990s.
Collins never lost his WBO belt in the ring. He was stripped of his belt after withdrawing from a fight against Joe Calzaghe. After having it taken from him, Collins decided to hang up his gloves, leaving him with a record of 36 wins from 39 fights, with just three losses.