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Boxing

Irish fighters in Las Vegas

Steve Collins
Andy Watters

Barry McGuigan

THE ‘Clones Cyclone' had already defended the WBA featherweight title he'd taken off Eusebio Pedroza twice when he travelled across the Atlantic for the second time in June 1986.

His first visit had been a routine knockout victory over journeyman Lavon McGowan three years previously, but he was stepping up in class and into the baking heat over 15 rounds at the ‘Outdoor Arena' at Caesars Palace against Steve Cruz (25-1), a durable Mexican with fast hands and power.

The bill was headlined by Roberto Duran and also featured Thomas Hearns and McGuigan started as the 5-1 favourite.

While not at his best he dominated early on before the 110 degree heat began to take its toll.

He was floored in the 10th and had a point deducted for a low blow in the 12th but still the Monaghan man was ahead on points going into the final round.

Only his fighting heart got him through it but he was put down twice and two judges scored the round 10-7 in Cruz's favour meaning he took the victory.

‘The Clones Cyclone' split with manager Barney Eastwood and spent almost two years out of the ring before making a four-fight comeback that ended with a loss to Jim McDonnell.

Wayne McCullough

McCULLOUGH, who fought out of Eddie Futch's Las Vegas gym, has a 3-1 record in ‘Sin City' and, like Frampton, ‘The Pocket Rocket' fought a rematch at the MGM Grand.

The Belfast bantam was 13-0 when he knocked out Andres Cazares on his Vegas debut at the Silver Nugget in 1994. Five years later he returned to beat Len Martinez and he scored another win by knocking out Alvin Brown in 2002.

The fourth and last of his Vegas appearances came in July 2007 when he squared up to Oscar Larios. The Mexican had won a controversial decision five months earlier and McCullough wanted revenge but things didn't go his way (see main story) on the night.

Andy Lee

THE best performance of Lee's career to date – and the best by an Irish fighter in Vegas to date – came in late 2014 when the London-born Limerick man knocked out Matt Korobov to win the WBO World middleweight title.

Russian Korobov had dominated the early rounds at the Cosmopolitan Chelsea Ballroom but Lee's right hook is a potent equalizer in any fight and he landed the thunderous shot he'd been waiting for in the sixth.

Korobov was shaken to his core and Lee finished him off with a furious two-fisted flurry to take his belt. Unfortunately Lee's career has gone into decline since - he lost the title to Billy Joe Saunders on points after an off-colour performance in December 2015 and didn't fight at all last year.

Jason Quigley

THE Donegal middleweight made his professional debut win a win at the MGM Grand on the undercard of ‘Canelo' v Erislandy Lara back in 2014. Not bad for starters!

Since then he has racked up 11 more wins and two of those have come in Vegas. Marchristopher Adkins took his to the final bell for the first time in his career and then ‘El Animal' Quigley out-pointed the experienced James De la Rosa in May last year.

He started in Vegas, and although he would dearly love to fight on home soil, LA-based Quigley could well finish his career there too.

Steve Collins

THE Celtic Warrior – Ireland's first two-weight world champion – is famed for his super-middleweight rumbles with Chris Eubank and Nigel Benn in the mid and late 1990s.

He put his WBO title on the line against both twice and won all four fights before retiring as champion with a 36-3 record that included eight straight title defences.

Collins only boxed in Vegas once, back in 1989.

At that stage he was based in Boston but travelled west and stopped unbeaten Roberto Rosiles in the ninth round at the Showboat Hotel and Casino. That win set up a showdown with Mike McCallum in Boston for the WBA middleweight title.

Collins was unsuccessful against McCallum but he got there in the end.

Kevin McBride

HEAVYWEIGHT McBride is best known for finally putting an end to Mike Tyson's career back in 2005.

But ‘The Clones Collossus' became the second fighter from his native Monaghan to fight in Las Vegas and fared no better than Barry McGuigan. McBride suffered the first loss of his career to Louis Monaco in 1997. Five years later he returned and was stopped by DaVarryl Williamson.

Bernard Dunne

THE Dubliner spent the early part of his career based in the US after he was signed by ‘Sugar' Ray Leonard. He appeared at the Sams Town Hotel in Las Vegas in February 2003 and stopped Eric Trujillo

Dunne had a 14-0 record before he returned to Ireland and his career reached a pinnacle on an unforgettable fight night in Dublin when he stopped Ricardo Cordoba to win the WBA super-bantamweight title.

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