Sean O'Bradaigh on goes on the offensive at Madison Square Garden. PHOTOS: HENRY DELEON

O'Bradaigh prevails in novice final, Cunningham wins 125-lb

Sean O'Bradaigh posted a split points decision over the game Israel Bailey at Madison Square Garden last Thursday night to win the Ring Masters/Golden Gloves middleweight novice final. 

In the Elite Female Division, Sarah Cunningham defeated defending champion Jacklyn McAllister in the 125-lb final. The County Roscommon native was a silver medalist in the 132-lb division last year. 


O'Bradaigh delighted close to 300 supporters in MSG’s Hulu Theater there just for him among the large turnout in the 5,600-capacity venue with some savvy boxing en enroute to his fifth and most significant victory in the 2023 Ring Masters tournament. Three days later, the New York University junior, who’s 21, ran and finished the Brooklyn Half Marathon. 

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With Dublin roots via his father, O'Bradaigh started the three-rounder against Bailey with a bang. He stunned his man with an overhand right in the first 15 seconds of the fight. It went all three rounds. 

“I won by split decision -- meaning one judge had me losing and two had me winning,” said O'Bradaigh. “But I really believe it should've been unanimous. I thought I won rounds one and three.”  

There were no knockdowns, just some equal peril between the unattached Irish-American and his foe from the Southbox Gym in the Bronx. 

Sean O'Bradaigh is congratulated by opponent Israel Bailey.

“At one point, I came in too much with the right hand, leaning forward and he caught me with a counter right that stunned me a bit. He gave me some problems when he came in close and tried to put me on the ropes. but he didn't do it enough,” O'Bradaigh conceded.   

“It feels unbelievable,” said O'Bradaigh. “I've been waiting for this for five years. There were close to 300 people there for me and I thought that would add pressure, but I felt as comfortable as ever in the large ring in front of the crowd.”

 While the open class division winners move on to the National Golden Gloves in Pennsylvania. O'Bradaigh, as a novice class winner doesn’t. He’ll participate in his first national tournament in Lubbock, Texas in June, which he’s now eligible for.

 “Hopefully I can win the Ring Masters’ 165-lb open division next year,” he said. “I might even move up to light-heavyweight because I'm getting bigger and it's getting harder for me to make 165-lbs. I am now an open class [fighter] because I've had over 10 fights and all novice finalists automatically become open class after the novice final.”

Sarah Cunningham gets some last-minute advice.


After 2022’s disappointment when she lost to the nationally ranked Yana Tolmacheva in the 132-lbs Elite Female category, Sarah Cunningham dropped a weight down this year and triumphed in the 125-lb class.

Her points victory over champion Jacklyn McAllister of Underground Boxing made her the second Irish-born female after three-time Golden Gloves winner Ruth O’Sullivan to triumph in New York’s premier amateur boxing competition.

“This was my third time to face her and third time to beat her since first facing her in January 2023,” said Cunningham. “I fought a smart fight, I'm usually a come forward aggressive fighter but boxed on the back foot and it worked well. 

She will compete next in the Women's International Tournament in Toledo, Ohio, at the end of July. 

Connor “The Kid” Coyle defends his North American Boxing Association [NABA] middleweight champion title in the main event of Reyes Fire Fist Boxing’s “Fire on the Bay” show this Saturday at the Hilton Carillon in St. Petersburg, Florida. His opponent in the scheduled 10-rounder will be named later.

Ranked #4 in the 160-pound division by the world Boxing Association [WBA], Coyle is 18-0 with eight knockouts. The Derryman fights out of Pinellas Park, Florida.