Lewis Crocker doesn’t want to face me in all-Ireland duel claims Paddy Donovan after Ritson win

Tyrobne McKenna, Pody McCrory, Kurt Walker, Fearghus Quinn included on August 3 Belfast bill

Lewis Crocker won the WBO Inter-Continental Welterweight title in January at the Ulster Hall (Mark Robinson/Mark Robinson Matchroom Boxing)

PADDY Donovan claims Lewis Crocker will not want to face him in an all-Ireland welterweight battle if the Belfast fighter comes through his showdown with Conah Walker in Birmingham on June 22.

Donovan eased through the gears on Saturday night and stopped experienced Lewis Ritson with an impressive performance of power and skill that was too much for the Geordie veteran who said he had reached the end of the road after the loss in Leeds.

Limerick native Donovan is nowhere near the end of his journey and the next hurdle in his way will be either Crocker (19-0) or Walker (13-2-1).

“Whoever wins it will not want to fight me,” said ‘The Real Deal’.

“The two of them are good fighters. It’s a tough fight for Crocker – Walker is a very good, solid fighter, a seasoned fighter and he’s in his home patch. So it’s a tough fight for Crocker – it’s tough for Walker too because Crocker is a great fighter.

“Them boys will slug it out but none of them will want this smoke on the next round, believe me.

Donovan’s preferred opponent is Crocker “for Ireland” but he added that Walker would still be a massive fight.

“They have a job to do, they have to battle it out and ‘The Real Deal’ will be waiting on the other side,” he said.

Donovan moved to 14-0 when he stopped Ritson in nine rounds to retain his WBA Continental title. Afterwards Ritson hinted at retirement and admitted he had been “beaten by the better man”.

“There was a lot of questions for me to answer after my last performance but you couldn’t ask for a better performance overall,” said a delighted Donovan.

“I boxed until I wanted to pick it up and then I picked it up and got the job done. It was a very professional ways of doing things and I’m delighted with the performance – it was a world class performance.

“My ranking should be up there with the best fighters in the world so I’m ready to go again whenever. I’m coming for all the 147lb fighters and I’m ready to take on the world and that’s why I’m in the sport of boxing to put the best fights together and to prove I’m one of the best fighters on the planet.

“Ireland needs a new boxing star and I believe I’m the next star coming through in the land. We want to bring big-time boxing to Limerick City and that’s the plan.”

Afterwards Donovan’s co-manager Keith Sullivan added: “We’ll sit down with Eddie Hearn – Andy (Lee), Paddy and myself and we’ll work it out but it’s going to be something big. After this performance he’s right there in the mix (for a world title shot).”

Earlier Naas lightweight Gary Cully marched on to 18-1 and won the vacant WBA Continental Title by outpointing Francesco Patera over 10 rounds,

Tyrone McKenna: "I want to batter him and rip his head off.”
Tyrone McKenna returns to action at the SSE Arena on August 3

TYRONE McKenna will return to action on August 3 in a rematch against French light-welterweight Mohamed Mimoune at the SSE Arena.

McKenna beat Mimoune at London’s York Hall four years ago and he was stung by the outcry over what was a debatable decision. The Mighty Celt briefly retired after his loss to Lewis Crocker last year but he reversed the decision and intends to set the record straight against USA-based Mimoune in his comeback fight.

After trading leather with McKenna in 2020, Mimoune spent two years out of the ring but has resumed his career in the States while McKenna became a fans’ favourite in Belfast and mixed it with the likes of Ohara Davis, Regis Prograis and Crocker.

Also on the August bill will be Kurt Walker making the first defence of the WBA Continental Europe featherweight title he won against James Beech junior last time out. Pody McCrory is also expected to fight on the night but he won’t face Dubliner Luke Keeler.

However, there is plenty of all-Irish action. Owen O’Neill and Dylan Moran will do battle while Belfast rivals Gerard Hughes and Rudy Farrell meet again after their first encounter was ruled a draw. Ambitious Farrell felt aggrieved at not getting the decision on the occasion and since then he has beaten Conor Kerr to win the Celtic bantamweight title.

Meanwhile, Armagh native Fearghus Quinn will meet Aston Brown for the Celtic middleweight title. Gerry Storey-trained Quinn had been sidelined by injury and will be keen to make up for lost time against the Scot.

Dubliner Gareth Dowling will make his professional debut on the show.

Amy Broadhurst swept to victory over Latvia’s Beatrise Rozentale on Monday night, forcing three standing counts between the second and third rounds to advance with ease. Picture by Sportsfile
Amy Broadhurst won her debut as a Great Britain boxer at the Olympic Games qualifiers

AMY Broadhurst made her debut for Great Britain following her switch from Ireland and won her opening Olympic qualifier in Thailand.

Dundalk native Broadhurst – winner of World, European and Commonwealth Games (competing for Northern Ireland) titles in 2022 - qualified for Great Britain after she wasn’t being selected in the Ireland team for the final qualifier in Bangkok. The 27-year-old holds a British passport as her father was born in England and she hammered out a unanimous 5-0 victory over Spain’s Sheila Martinez in her opening last-32 bout in the 60kg division.

With three Paris Games spots available in her division, Broadhurst will need to reach the final in Thailand or win a box-off for third place to qualify for her first Olympics. She will fight either Canada’s Terris Smith or Bulgaria’s Aslahan Mehmedova next.

Broadhurst is competing at her favoured weight after having to previously shift divisions because Ireland’s Olympic champion Kellie Harrington also fights at 60kg.

“I’m glad to get the first one out of the way,” Broadhurst told GB Boxing.

“It’s OK sparring and stuff but the nerves before a fight are completely different so it’s good to finally be back in there at my natural weight as well.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better bunch of people to be working with. They’ve been amazing to me,” added Broadhurst.

On Tuesday Tokyo Olympic bronze medallist Aidan Walsh meets Youcef Islman of Algeria in a round of 32 fight in the 71kg category. Five boxers qualify in this weight division which means the Belfast man has two shots at making the cut provided he reaches the quarter-final.

If he wins the quarter-final he goes through automatically, if he loses there will be a box-off between the four beaten quarter-finalists with the eventual winner securing the final slot in the light middleweight division.

Walsh won his opening qualifier on Sunday with a dominant 5-0 over Kenya’s Boniface Mogunde Maina. The Holy Family ABC fighter is aiming to join his sister Michaela in the Ireland boxing team at the Games.

Jack Catterall controversially lost out to Josh Taylor last year
Jack Catterall controversially lost out to Josh Taylor in their first meeting

JACK Catterall had to wait two years, but he got his revenge against Josh Taylor in Leeds on Saturday night. Jamie Moore-trained Catterall avenged the only defeat of his career with a unanimous (117-111, 117-111, 116-113) points victory in front of packed Leeds First Direct Arena.

Afterwards Catterall (29-1) was quick to outline his ambitions of becoming a world champion in the 140lb division with his sights set firmly on securing the belts he felt he should have won in Glasgow back in 2022 when he was first denied against a then-undisputed king in Taylor. Catterall hopes to face WBO and Ring Magazine champion Teofimo Lopez next.

“The world title has always been the dream for me,” he said.

“We didn’t get the undisputed and we didn’t get the world titles last time but that’s fine because that chapter has been rewritten now.

“We’re in a great position and Eddie (Hearn) has a massive stable at 140 so I want that world title fight.

“I was mandatory for the WBO title for what felt like a lifetime. Lopez beat Taylor before I did. We’ve both had a win over him and now I want to prove that I’m better than him. I believe I’ve got the style to beat Lopez and that’s the fight I want. It’s time to share the ring with you (Teofimo Lopez). Let’s see who the true champion is.”

On winning the fight, the 30-year-old added: “It was a big relief. We’ve been there before, and I turned straight to Eddie (Hearn) because I thought I’d won the first fight clearly and then I thought I had won this one clearly too. But you never know with some of the scorecards, so to get the decision was a right relief for me.

“I knew the threats that Josh would bring and that I needed to stay disciplined and not get too complacent in there. But I also knew I needed to push and squeeze for this victory, as I knew I wouldn’t be able to coast to the win. I had to keep my emotions intact and take the opportunities when I saw them.

“You’ve got to be prepared for every outcome and to adapt. We didn’t know whether Josh would. come out of the blocks for the first four rounds or whether he was going to try and drag it out in the later rounds. I trained hard and you must be ready for anything in there. I’d had a long camp with some great sparring partners, so ultimately, I just had to adjust and tackle what was put in front of me.

Matchroom Sport chairman Eddie Hearn agrees that Catterall has now earned the right to challenge for a world title.

“We believe that Jack should be a world champion now,” he said.

“But that’s a thing of the past and is now the next step and the natural step. One thing we know for sure, it will be a massive fight next – and, if I have a choice, it will be for a world title against Lopez.”

Mind games? Tyson Fury refused to look Oleksandr Usyk in the eye at the pre-fight press conference
Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk are expected to fight again in October (Stephen Dunkley)

FRANK Warren has objected to the IBF’s plan to strip recently-unified heavyweight champion Oleksandr Usyk of their title.

Just days after the Ukrainian beat Tyson Fury to become the first undisputed champion in a quarter of-a-century, it was announced that he would be stripped of the IBF belt and that Filip Hrgovic, the mandatory challenger – and Daniel Dubois would go head-to-head for the then vacant title on June 1. The winner of that bout will face off against Anthony Joshua in September at Wembley Stadium.

“He has been suspended because of how tough the fight was (and can’t box) for 40 or 45 days by the commission,” Warren explained.

“So, he can’t be stripped at this stage of the game because he’s not in a position to defend his title. That fight between Dubois and Hrgovic is a fantastic fight. The worst-case scenario is it’ll be an interim title fight. Whatever happens, if it goes ahead as an interim title fight, I have no problem with that.

“I feel it should be for the interim because I think the rematch (between Fury and Usyk) should be for the four belts.”

Warren predicts that the rematch (scheduled for October 12/13) will be even better than the first fight which swayed one way, then the other until Usyk took control with a furious assault on ‘The Gypsy King’.

“They both know each other, they’ve shared the ring and they’ll be looking to use what they’ve gained from the fight as an advantage to beat their opponent,” he said.

“Of course, Fury wants to win and he’s got to win. He’s only asking for the rematch because he thinks he can win. He believes in himself and it would cement his legacy. Everyone thinks Usyk is the best out there so let’s see what Tyson does. He rang me and he said he wants the rematch so here we are.”