Since turning professional earlier this year, Stephen McAfee has defied all expectations – except perhaps his own.
The Sallynoggin super featherweight entered the paid ranks of Irish boxing with little elite amateur pedigree, but has almost instantaneously carved a reputation as one of Dublin’s most exciting fighters. With a background mainly in kickboxing and semi-pro fighting, McAfee needed something special to stand out among the dozens of new pros in 2017 – and stand out he did.
Debuting in May, the former Monkstown amateur opened his account with a KO of the Year contender, flattening Poland’s Marcin Ficner in the third round having had him on the floor a number of times beforehand. That finish went viral and there were more than a few interested observers of his second fight in September – and McAfee did not disappoint.
Facing Hungarian Attila Horvath, the 26 year old tore into his unsuspecting foe from the first bell and had the fight waved off within a round. Following a sustained attack to the body, the shell-shocked Horvath was carted off to hospital with broken ribs. A real character, McAfee joked afterwards how the early stoppage came as he was in dire need of a bathroom break and had to get back to the dressing rooms as soon as possible!
With statements having been made in his two previous fights, McAfee has been rewarded with a big bout number three. The Jonathan Lewis-trained boxer will fight in one of the chief support bouts on the big ‘Celtic Clash 4’ bill at the National Stadium on Saturday December 2nd. The show is headlined by former top amateur and RTÉ pundit Eric Donovan who defends his BUI Celtic featherweight title against Juancho Gonzalez, while there is also Dublin grudge match between Loughlinstown’s Jay Byrne and Crank Whitehouse for the BUI Celtic welterweight belt.
The savvy McAfee is well aware that he needs to be an entertainer alongside being a sportsman, and the Dub certainly has a swagger about him. McAfee described how “you’ve got to be confident in this game and I don’t lack confidence. The more confident I am the better I perform. You always have to try and stand out and it’s great to get the stoppage for the fans. You are thinking you want to steal the show a bit, but rounds are important too. I think after two knockout wins people will start to take a little more notice of me. The main goal was to get people talking about me and I think I did that.”
Despite his inexperience as both an amateur and a pro, McAfee’s performances have garnered him a big fight. Not only will he make an early move from four round fights to six rounders, McAfee’s next contest will be an all-Irish showdown. The power-puncher has be been matched hard on Celtic Clash 4.
It’s a big step up that has come very, very early in his career but, like everything, McAfee has taken it completely in his stride and cooly comments how “it’s a against a better opponent and I’ve been told he will take me the distance – but I know different! Every time I step into the ring I want to improve from my last fight, and I will, don’t worry
Celtic Clash 4 also features Ballybrack light welterweight Niall O’Connor, as well as Bernard Roe, Graham McCormack O’Shea, Vladimir Belujsky, John Joyce, Regan Buckley, James Cahill, Martin Quinn, Dylan McDonagh, and Thomas Finnegan.
Tickets for the show cost €15 (under 15s), €30, €40, €60, and €100 and can be purchased from Stephen at 086 2454 350 or via Ticketmaster.ie or any Ticketmaster outlets.