With less than 3 months to go until Ireland’s inaugural ‘Last Man Standing‘ tournament, the competition and setup is starting to take shape. With the rumour mill in full flow, I caught up with co-promoter Jonathan Graham of Red Corner Promotions to find out how the idea got up and running and to get the latest on the tournament everyone is talking about –
“Ourselves in Red Corner and Assassin Boxing had been talking back and forth for a while now on it. In the absence of TV backing we wanted to come up with something that would grab the attention of the general public and the casual fan. Obviously with our current shows they attract the die-hard boxing fans and that’s great, but we just wanted to broaden our audience.
“Kaz Evans in Assassin was in the same boat over in the UK, so we came up with the ‘Last Man’ tournament. To be honest, we make no apologies about it but we want the tv broadcasters involved in this. Were looking for someone to come in and commit to a degree with us on it. We dont just want a one-off on tv and that’s it. Were looking at three events in 2018 and we want someone to commit to showing that and just to give us a platform to showcase our boxers and what we can do.
“We think this is going to take off and we think the viewing figures will be really positive for whoever takes it on. We’re hoping to have an agreement in place by the end of this week and we can get moving on it then.”
In terms of participants for the tournament, Jonathan says there has been some solid interest but fighter’s need to apply by the deadline this month –
“Yeah we’ve had a lot of interest and applicants so far. I know Darren Cruise & Tony Senior have been mentioned as possible participants so we’ll see how that goes. We’ve had a few other names in the hat I can’t mention just yet but it’s very interesting. And as well as the cash incentive there’s also the extra bonus of a title shot at Luke Keeler for the Irish Middleweight title.
“Obviously we’re putting an independent panel in place for selection, we have Ken Egan and Mickey Helliet who know the sport and are really honest guys so they’ll have a proper look over each one. But if guys are interested they need to apply and get their application in this month. ”
Jonathan says that they already have plans in place for further events and will build shows around the ‘Last Man’ tournaments to showcase their fighters –
“Looking ahead, the second tournament is going to be at Welterweight. In terms of when that will be, it’s kind of dictated by the broadcaster that comes on board and the tv schedule in place. But it will be within a few months of the first tournament.
“Ideally, we want to build on this, and build up fighters to become household names. Look at what Prizefighter did for Martin Rogan, Martin Murray, Jono Carroll amongst others who have kicked on from there and had great success.”
“We’re happy to build shows around the tournament and with talented fighters like Craig O’Brien, Victor Rabei, Chris Blaney and Ray Moylette, these guys can become household names and challenge for major honours and I think the tv platform can only help with that.”
With the ambition and enthusiasm Red Corner & Assassin are showing for Irish boxing and for this concept, surely the general public will get behind this tournament and the fighter’s involved. There’s no reason why this cant be a launchpad for the next Martin Murray or Jono Carroll, and it gives fighters the opportunity to kick on and possibly become a household name and bring boxing back to the mainstream in Ireland.