Sean O'Bradaigh gets the win over Jeremy Witherspoon in the Ring Masters semi-finals.

O'Bradaigh returns to the Garden on Thursday night

Sean O’Bradaigh leads an Irish charge for honors in MSG Boxing’s Ring Masters Championships, one of the nation’s top amateur boxing tournaments, at Madison Square Garden this Thursday night.

A day after turning 22, O’Bradaigh celebrated his birthday with a romp over old sparring partner Jeremy “King Kong” Witherspoon at the Classic Car Club Manhattan to qualify for 176-pound Elite final. “I gave myself a good birthday present,” he said. “I was really hoping that I would win and now it’s off to Madison Square Garden two years in a row -- so I'm excited!”

Sign up to The Irish Echo Newsletter

Sign up today to get daily, up-to-date news and views from Irish America.

Last year’s Ring Masters middleweight champion, the NYU senior with Dublin roots on his father’s side, returns to the Garden in pursuit of a second straight title.

Also flying Irish colors at the Garden are FDNY’s Sean Dillon, making his debut in the 176-pound novice final against Carderon Deleon of Gym X, and Hugh McNulty – O’Bradaigh’s NYAC boxing club stablemate – in the 165 novice decider against Adrian Velez of The Last Round club.

O’Bradaigh outclassed the stocky Witherspoon to book a rematch with Bronxchester veteran Adrian Frometa in the Ring Masters final.

“He used to beat me up in sparring [but] I completely beat him up this time,” O’Bradaigh said of Witherspoon. “I was able to outbox him, he barely hurt me. I made him miss a lot. I started showboating [and] my coach got mad, yeah it was great.” There were no knockdowns in the one-sided three-rounder.

And standing between O’Bradaigh and a second Ring Masters title is the man who beat him in the SBC Elite light heavyweight championship match at the Stereo Garden in Long Island last January – the experienced Frometa. O'Bradaigh dropped a narrow points decision then.

“It’s gonna be a very interesting rematch,” O’Bradaigh predicted. “I’m gonna take it this time. I’m going to win.

“Frometa is obviously the only guy on the regional scene that gives me a problem. Everyone else I went through so I just need to get through Frometa and then you know I'm at the national Golden Gloves.”

Noting Frometa’s experience, O’Bradaigh added: “He fought in the Ring Masters final when it was the New York Daily News Golden Gloves -- 2017 [when] he lost in the final. In 2023, he lost in the 176 open final, and now he needs to win it for himself but I'm here to steal the show.

“He's had more experience and time, but I've had probably more experience just fighting overseas, fighting with no headgear, fighting Olympic trials, things that he hasn't done.”

There could be an Irish double victory in the 176-pound division with Fire Dept. of New York [FDNY] standout the 6-feet-two Sean Dillon contesting the novice title against Gym X’s Carderon Deleon.

“I’ve seen him fight,” Dillon said of his foe. “He’s a skilled, sharp and powerful guy. But I’m confident in my abilities to get the job done. It will be one of my toughest fights.”

 The 29-year-old Dillon reached the quarterfinals of the 2021 Ring Masters tournament and returns to the site of his most recent victory. Fighting for the FDNY team, Dillon starred at the Garden last month. He forced an eight-count and later scored a knock down in a points decision over England’s George Dobbins.

 A Staten Island resident who works out of Engine Co. 283 in Brownsville, Brooklyn, he expects a huge turnout of supporters this Thursday.

Dillon has roots in both County Longford and Fermanagh.

FDNY’s Sean Dillon (yellow singlet) in action in a recent bout. He fights in the Ring Masters’ 176 pound novice final. [Photo: Matt DeSimone]

Ending a near four-year layoff, Hugh McNulty is back with a bang, winning three bouts in a roll to advance to the Ring Masters novice middleweight final.

McNulty, pictured below, came up short in the first round of the 2020 tournament as a 176-pounder. Then COVID-19 shut the world down and he decided to hung up the gloves.   

 He returned to the ring this year determined to win Ring Masters honors. “Last year, a traumatic event in my family happened which made me need an outlet and so I set my sights on winning this tournament,” he explained.

 This time, the 5-feet-11 McNulty came in at a lower weight. “[Coach] Rich Stephenson, one of the coaches of Team USA, he told me I need to drop down to 165 if I wanted to win and that’s what I did. That’s been the toughest part of this year, just maintaining the lower weight class.

 “I fought at the New York Athletic Club against Joshua Manning from Peekskill boxing club. I dropped him in the third round and won on unanimous decision. For that fight I had 200 friends come to support me.

 “For my quarter final fight, I fought Shane Carrol from Morris Park boxing club at Amazura night club. I also beat him on unanimous decision.

 “For my semi-final fight I fought Jeffrey Gelin from Gleasons. [I] dropped him in the third round and gave him two standing eight-counts after that. I also won that fight by unanimous decision.”

Next up for McNulty -- with Donegal roots on his paternal side -- is Adrian Velez of The Last Round club.