Top names are lined up for a carnival fight night

TOP fighters from all over the province will be taking part in a Craigavon kickboxing carnival on Saturday, February 25.

Lurgan, Craigavon and Portadown men will all enter the ring on the Fight Club NI Kickboxing annual fight night in the Carn Grove Hotel, Portadown.

The brainchild of local Lurgan man, David Boyd, the former top ranked European title contender, turned promoter, who has endeavoured to bring kickboxing back to Portadown.

David has promoted numerous shows in and around Craigavon over two decades, developing and building each event to bigger and better levels. After years of hard work David Boyd has managed to bring no less than four national titles to Portadown on an amazing 15 fight bill.

It will be a nostalgic moment for the David who remembers a decade before, when he and team-mates, Tony Blevins, Ali Brown, Alan Campbell and others would all have represented the area as they fought on major bills in the Seagoe Hotel.

While this event is one of the biggest kickboxing bills to be staged in the entire province, it doesn’t sacrifice quality for quantity. Every fight is an adult full contact match-up, no junior, nor light continuous or exhibitions on this top flight show. Indeed, such is the prestige of this fight night, over 60 kickboxers applied to compete on the bill, from nearly every club in Northern Ireland.

It is a double celebration for the Fight Club NI. Not only are they the host of the greatest event in the country, but their fighters are also topping the bill.

Local favourite Derryadd’s own Gerald Doran, the current Northern Ireland light heavyweight champion, is set to step down undefeated from his 83kg belt and challenge instead for the 79 kilo title. Gerard is renowned as one of the stalwarts of Fight Club NI kickboxing.

Coach Davy Boyd said: “Gerard is amongst the toughest fighters I’ve ever trained. He is willing to step in with any man, at any time.” Gerard is famed for his aggressive, non-stop punching and so his fight against Hugh Barbar of Londonderry promises to raise the roof.

Also from the impressive Fight Club NI stable of top fighters and champions is cruiserweight contender, Craigavon centred man, Jonass Kovalevskis.

Jonass is of Lithuanian decent but has been based around and working in the Craigavon area for over ten years. He is now eligible to challenge for the top honour in Northern Ireland kickboxing – the national cruiserweight title. Jonass is stepping up to challenge for a title vacated by stablemate, Portadown’s Finbar Doran.

Such was the domination of the Mid-Ulster clubs in this weight division it took matchmaker Ashley McClean months to search the length and breadth of these islands to find anyone willing to fight the talented eastern European. Jonass will now be matched against a Londonderry fighter, Sean Deeney.

Next up on the bill, in a spirit of co-operation and mutual respect, David Boyd has established firm links with the other main martial arts club in Craigavon - John Fox and John Farrell’s Kempo club which is based at the Hub complex and in Enzo’s Gym in Portadown. They have put forward the crème of their talent to compete on the bill against the best of the rest of the province.

The Kempo club has put forward Greg Thornton, Thomas Purcalus and Peter Hamill to represent their fighting art. Greg is continuing his campaign to earn a shot at the Northern Ireland title, and he will face a seasoned kickboxer from Dungannon, Shay McGeary. While the McGeary versus Thornton fight is a non title bout, it is tipped to be one of the most closely contended of the evening, and a true title eliminator. The title both men covet is also on the bill with Cookstown’s Noel Tierney facing Belfast’s Martin O’Neil.

Aside from the middleweights Lurgan Kempo coach, John Fox, has been keen to prepare his lightweight protégé Peter Hamill who has already faced the Northern Ireland champion and now has to go south to find an opponent in one of Ireland’s top lightweight’s Michael Whelan. Coach Fox has great belief in his man and is keen to see how Peter matches up against one of the island’s top fighters.

Lurgan Kempo’s other representative is Craigavon’s adoptive son, Thomas Purcalens, one of many talented foreign national fighters who train at the Hub, the V02 and Enzo’s Gym. Thomas is up against a Carnmoney fighter, in a light heavyweight clash.

In addition to the Lurgan clubs involvement in this top event, they have shared the billing to include local counterparts from Portadown.

Alan Campbell’s club makes a strong addition to the billing, providing a real formidable team from the Mid-Ulster area, against the rest of the province. The Portadown men, based at Mahon Road, will field former light welterweight champion Annaghmore man, Nigel Parks in a great match up against Antrim’s Stevie Gannon, himself a former title holder. This is a battle of former champions, who both have hopes of regaining their titles again.

Alongside Nigel stands his stablemate, Bill McDonagh, who has a tough fight against a Larne opponent.

All said the February 25 show is set for a major battle of kickboxing talent. The best fight of the night will be chosen by a local celebrity guest.

The action begins at 7.30pm at the Carn Grove Hotel. Tickets are £10, payable at the door. Come early, numbers are limited.