The large crowd of knowledgeable boxing fans at the Titanic Ballroom on Friday night were treated to a veritable feast of fantastic fights.
The locally based fighters found themselves having to step up as their American opponents came determined to secure a victory for the Stars and Stripes.
The hometown boxers started well with Dylan Eagleson from Bangor winning comfortably in the 36kg class. Coleraine’s Matty Boreland allowed himself to be bullied around the ring by Shakell Daley of the Sugar Ray Leonard Club before an exciting contest between Gilford’s Oisin O’Dowd and Wilfredo Avelar, with the American coming out on top.
It was obvious the Americans had come on a mission to overturn their defeat last year but Barry McReynolds in the 54kg category showed the local lads weren’t going to lie down easily.
In the tightest fight of the night, the Holy Trinity youngster won a unanimous decision to leave it all square at the halfway stage.
With the real heavy hitters to come it was going to be anyone’s contest, with bragging rights at stake for the overall winners.
The late, great Rinty Monaghan’s brother Tommy, who was joined by Paddy Barnes and the Conlon brothers last night, was more than impressed with the standard of the fights.
Holding the coveted gold World Championship belt Brother Rinty won in 1948, Tommy said: “There have been some good bouts so far, it’s all been really even. It’s hard to call which way it will go but it’s a credit to everyone involved.”
Emmanuel Quinn, founder of the Belfast Beltway Project, added: “I am so proud to be here tonight, this is a great tribute to my mother and father and with the backing of local Businesses in Northern Ireland we can change the lives of so many young men and support them on their dreams.”
Commonwealth Gold medallist Paddy Barnes was equally impressed: “There have been some close bouts and some talented fighters. The Belfast Beltway Project is such a great charity that does some brilliant cross-community work and I can only praise the organisers for the work they have done with these young lads.
“We could have stars of the future here and the Project could be vital in helping them on their way.”