This year has been notable in Irish boxing for the huge amount of fighters turning pro but, of all the 30 plus fighters making the leap, Dylan McDonagh probably has the most varied background.
The 32-year-old bantamweight whirlwind is a relative latecomer to boxing, but he has plenty of experience in fighting ahead of his pro debut next month. Between Thai Boxing, Amateur Boxing, Mixed Martial Arts [MMA], and Semi-Pro Boxing, the Tallaght fighter has been trading blows for many a year, but will box professionally for the first time in Dublin on Saturday, September 9.
McDonagh is set to feature on the ‘Celtic Clash 3’ card at the National Stadium on the South Circular Road, and it has been a long time coming. Initially due to make his pro bow back in April, McDonagh was unfortunate to see this card get cancelled on the week of the fight. Subsequently he would sign for Leonard Gunning’s Boxing Ireland Promotions and now debuts next month on a show that is headlined by a BUI Celtic title fight between Welsh champion Dai Davies and former Irish amateur star and RTÉ pundit Eric Donovan.
It’s been a long road for chirpy Dub McDonagh. Outlining his long fighting history fighting history, he details how “I started Thai Boxing out of Bridgestone in town and I fought for them for a good couple of years. Thai Boxing is where I got my style. It gives you an aggressive style, come forward. But, with Thai Boxing, you don’t get the angles, it’s all come forward, straight-on all the time.”
“I went into boxing with Westside BC and I won the Dublin, Leinster, and All-Irelands Novices then I kind of dropped out for about two years.”
“I came back and just got the hunger for it again and, while I was boxing with Frank, I went to SBG [John Kavanagh’s MMA gym, and the base of two-weight UFC champion Conor McGregor] and was training down there as well. I was kind of split between the two of them – but I wasn’t giving enough time to SBG because I think my style suited me going back to boxing.”
“I went on to the Intermediates, lost in the quarter finals [to fellow Tallaght boxer Carl McDonald – who also features on September 9th] and then fought there in November on a semi pro show. It [the semi-pro fight] was four two-minute rounds, which was too short. I said after the third round that I could’ve gone for six rounds, I had barely broken a sweat.”
Had things gone differently, McDonagh may have ended up in the octagon rather than the ring, having impressed at the Straight Blast Gym. However, boxing was always the sport for the Jobstown man, who will cheering on McGregor when the Crumlin fighter takes on boxing legend Floyd Mayweather on August 26th in Las Vegas.
McDonagh revealed how “I sparred them all down in SBG and I held my own against all them. I sparred against Artem Lobov [McGregor’s main training partner] and I found him, I wont say easy, but I could hold my own against him. John Kavanagh was saying to me to come and join an MMA team but then my Mam took sick around that time so I left that [MMA] to the side and went back to boxing.”
A self-confessed ‘gym rat,’ McDonagh is eager to begin his pro journey following his previous false start, and believes that his relatively advanced age wont prove a hindrance. Most importantly, McDonagh is feeling young ahead of his debut and noted how “I think I should have turned pro years ago, I think I’m suited to the pro game, 32 is only a number, I feel like I am 22. I feel fresh and ready to go, it’s as simple as that.”
“The gameplan is to, please God, do well in this fight, obviously win and put a show on, and then just keep going. I’m ready to just get the record up and put on a good show and see where it goes from there. I’ve seen people turning pro and I’ve thought ‘I could beat them,’ and I’ve sparred good people as well, very good people.”
Headlined by the Donovan-Davies title fight, the Celtic Clash 3 card also features Stephen McAfee, Martin Quinn, Regan Buckley, Carl McDonald, Chris Mullally, Michael Gallagher, Niall O’Connor, James Cahill, Gerard Whitehouse, Bernard Roe, John Joyce, and Colin O’Donovan.
Tickets for the show cost €30 (Balcony), €40 (Gallery), €60 (Ringside), €100 (VIP Premium), and €15 (Under-15s gallery – must be bought alongside an adult ticket) and are available to buy by calling 085 772 1209 or online at Ticketmaster.ie.