Can Semi-Pro Boxing Ireland succeed in a sport obsessed with the amateur and professional game?

The setting of Semi-Pro-Boxing-Ireland’s second home show was intimate and intense.

Over 400 people packed into Stradbrook Rugby Club for the ‘Bad Blood’ event on Saturday night.

Professional boxer and promoter of the show Jay Byrne staged ten bouts that had a rich feel of competitiveness attached to them.

Semi-professional boxing doesn’t have the romanticised (albeit corrupt) history that amateur boxing has.

However, to put it bluntly, this format feels more exciting and more event-like.

Amateur boxing associations would be right to see it as a threat. Unless bullied out of existence, semi-professional boxing could grow into an attractive stepping stone for the highest level of the sweet science.

Old school boxing scribes, who view the past as immortal and the prospect of change perilous, may disagree. After all, this wasn’t an event where many journalists were present.

But the action was worthy of media coverage.

Fans were treated to a spectacle. Music, flashing lights and compelling pro-like ring entrances had the crowd eager and engaged. Boxers demonstrated their dedication to the sport as they dazzled with notable footwork and credible punch variety.

The most basic yet most important punch in boxing, the jab, was also used effectively. Chris Scuvie was a combatant who mastered it against Wayne Morley.

But it wasn’t all just technical skill.

Grit and heart were displayed too, particularly in the main-event, as victor Stephen Mcafee and Karl Kelly battled toe to toe for eight gruelling rounds for the Irish welterweight title.

Damian Darker, a man well-known in the world of K1, blitzed his opponent with thumping uppercuts and hooks to earn a first round stoppage over Deco Daly.

The night, although a success, did have its controversy.

Karl O’Connor can justifiably feel aggrieved not to have been awarded victory over Eric Watts in their junior super-featherweight title fight. The bout was declared a draw despite O’Connor shining as a standout performer.

In November, Jay Byrne gave pertinent insight to Fightstore Media on why he launched Semi-Professional boxing immediately after Michael Conlan’s Olympic departure.

His shows have been big hits.

It’s rare that a boxing card, be it the highest level of Vegas or London, has as many evenly-matched and competitive fights as witnessed on the semi-pro stage. And it is unquestionably more entertaining than the amateur set-up where build-ups are dull, venues are sparse and quiet and corruption robs fighters of deserved glory.

Respect to Team UK who travelled over to challenge their Irish counterparts. Families from England made their voices heard and their passionate emotions felt amongst the vociferous cauldron of the tight space.

Will Semi-Pro-Boxing-Ireland grow into a force that challenges the amateur game? It has a long way to go. But with their scintillating start, they have left us and many fans craving more.

Main Card

  • Ste Mcaffe defeats Karl Kelly via Split Decision – ( Irish Welterweight Title – 8 x 2min) – Watch Fight
  • Eric Watts vs Karl O’Connor – Draw – (Junior Super Featherweight Title – 4 x 2min) – Watch Fight
  • Martin Quinn defeats Szymon Holona via Split Decision – (Welterweight Title Eliminator – 6 x 2min) – Watch Fight


  • Glen Byrne defeats Terry Hadaway via Unanimous Decision – (Super Welterweight – 4 x 2min) – Watch Fight
  • Chris Scuvie defeats Wayne Morley via Unanimous Decision – (88kg Catchweight – 4 x 2min) – Watch Fight
  • Eddie Tracey defeats Danny Dixon via Unanimous Decision – (75kg Catchweight – 4 x 2min) – Watch Fight
  • Martin Wall defeats Mark Sullivan via Unanimous Decision – (Middleweight – 4 x 2min) – Watch Fight
  • Damian Darker defeats Deco Daly via TKO (Referee Stoppage) in Round 1,  2:00min – (Light Heavyweight – 4 x 2min) – Watch Fight
  • Aaron Cahill defeats Spencer Oakman via Unanimous Decision – (Light Heavyweight – 4 x 2min) – Watch Fight
  • Willie Delaney defeats Nathan Forsyth via Unanimous Decision – (Super Middleweight – 3x2min) – Watch Fight
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