Ireland’s best versus the English champion... Conor Quinn determined to carry on ‘Rinty’ flyweight tradition

Pierce O’Leary, Colm Murphy, James McGivern and Walter Fury on stacked June 28 bill

Conor Quinn fights for the Celtic and Commonwealth 'Silver' belts on October 14
Conor Quinn fights for the Commonwealth flyweight title on June 28

IRISH eyes were smiling when the legendary ‘Rinty’ Monaghan knocked out Jackie Paterson at the Kings Hall in 1948 to become the last, and only, fighter from these shores to win the Commonwealth flyweight title. 76 years’ later, Conor Quinn intends to carry on that proud tradition against Conner Kelsall in the co-main event at the SSE Arena on June 28.

A mouthwatering prospect, Belfast’s Quinn (9-0-1) and Yorkshire native Kelsall (11-0) are the Celtic and English champions respectively and they go head-to-head for the Commonwealth title on a bill that also feature Dublin’s ‘Big Bang’ Pierce O’Leary, titles fights for Colm Murphy and James McGivern and the professional debut of Tyson Fury’s younger brother Walter.

Quinn is mandatory challenger for the European flyweight title but Kelsall is all he has on his mind until the job is done at the end of the month.

“He has definitely earned the right to be in this fight,” said Quinn.

“This is the best fight I could take at this moment in my career. We’re two undefeated fighters, two highly-decorated amateurs going up against each other. I want the big shows to keep coming to Belfast and the only way to do that is to give the fans a good fight and a fair fight. These are the type of fights that will bring me to the next level and get people behind me. On the 28th of June there’ll be some really high-level boxing on show.”

‘The Magnificent’ made his professional debut five years ago but medical issues meant he had to spend two years out of the ring.

At the time he was frustrated and unhappy but he says that setback allowed him to mature as a fighter and as a person ready to take advantage of the opportunities that are coming his way.

“I’ve grown from strength-to-strength,” he said.

“When I wasn’t able to box for two years and I was really bitter about it. I was in the gym training every day but there was a part of me that felt I was missing out.

“When I look back on it now it was one of the best things that could have happened to me. I went from a boy to a man and these opportunities I’m getting now, I feel like I’m more than ready for them. If I had getting them two or three years ago, it might have been a bit too soon.

“Everything happens for a reason and every opportunity that is presented to me with both hands. With the high-level sparring I’ve been having and how I’ve been performing in the fights, I think it’s all coming together for the 28th of June for me to take off.”

Recently signed to Frank Warren’s Queensbury Promotions, Quinn says he wants to put on a display and create the atmosphere that will encourage the English promoter to keep coming back to Belfast.

“You see all the big promoters on the world stage but for me it was always Frank Warren I wanted to sign with because I feel they’re the best in the world at bringing fighters from a starting point in their career right to the top,” he said.

“He is getting the credit for that now and you saw it at the weekend when Queensbury beat the Matchroom fighters 5-0. It was a whitewash for Frank Warren and that was absolutely brilliant for the likes of myself who are signed with him.

“Even with Anto Cacace going out to Saudi and winning the IBF title against another Matchroom fighter and absolutely destroying Joe Cordina. All that reflects highly on all the fighters signed with Queensbury.”

Frank Warren’s Queensbury stable beat Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom team 5-0 in last weekend’s ‘5v5′ in Saudi Arabia.

In the main event Zhilei Zhang knocked out Deontay Wilder in the fifth round while Daniel Dubois defeated Filip Hrgovic, Dimitry Bivol stopped Malik Zinad, Hamzah Sheeraz beat Austin Williams, Nick Ball defeated Raymond Ford via on a split decision and Willy Hutchinson got a unanimous points win against Craig Richards. Quinn says he would relish the chance of being involved in a re-run of the clash between the heavyweight English promoters.

“I want to keep creating wee bits of history for myself,” he said.

“To be involved in an event like that would be unbelievable. In years to come people will look at events like that and say it was a turning-point in boxing because everyone is being brought together now and the biggest fights are being made.

“I want to keep winning and being involved in the biggest events would be a dream come through.”

Tickets for Belfast Brawl at SSE Arena on Friday, June 28 are available from the boxers and from

James McGivern will get a shot at the Celtic title in Letterkenny
James McGivern defends his Celtic title at the SSE Arena on June 28

PIERCE O’Leary will make a fourth defence of his WBC International super-lightweight title against Darragh Foley at the SSE Arena on June 28, live on TNT Sports.

The co-main event with Conor Quinn, Dubliner O’Leary (14-0) will be out to build on his last outing in Birmingham back in March when he overcame unbeaten Hovhannes Martirosyan in an impressive fashion, stopping the Belgian in round nine.

Australia-based with Irish roots, southpaw Foley (22-5-1) is a former regional IBF and IBO champion who went the distance with Jack Catterall last year.

Belfast favourite James McGivern (8-0) will make a first defence of his BUI Celtic championship against Cardiff’s Rahid Omar (6-0). McGivern won the title last November with victory over the previously undefeated Josh Sandford in Letterkenny.

The vacant Commonwealth Silver featherweight title will be on the line for Belfast’s ‘Posh Boy’ Colm Murphy (11-0), who goes up against the Scot Jack Turner (6-1).

“I am very much looking forward to returning to Belfast where, most recently, we staged hugely successful shows headlined by Carl Frampton,” said promoter Frank Warren

“I am very happy to be going back and showcasing the talents of Queensberry’s Irish contingent, headed up by Conor Quinn and Pierce O’Leary, with both in big fights and Conor in what should be a classic collision with the English champion, the highly-rated Conner Kelsall.

“There will be lots of local talent on the card - including a number of our new signings - and I am particularly looking forward to seeing Steven Cairns in action for the first time under the Queensberry banner, plus Jack Turner, who comes with an already formidable reputation.”

Five recent Warren signings will feature on the night. Ferocious Liverpool bantamweight Jack Turner (6-0, 6) - who is yet to experience the second round of a fight in the pros - along with Jadier Herrera (14-0, 12), a Cuban southpaw, who both train out of the Rotunda Gym in Liverpool. Plus Steven Cairns (7-0, 4) from Cork, as well as with English welterweight Nicola Barke (4-0) and the decorated amateur star from Ballyhaunis Eoghan Lavin (1-0), who made his professional debut at York Hall in April.

The professional debut of Manchester super welterweight Walter Fury completes the card.