Connor Coyle shoots to six in WBA rankings and locks sights on Katie Taylor's Croke Park homecoming

HALL OF Fame boxing coach Jim McLoughlin insists he's 'determined' to guide unbeaten middleweight Connor Coyle to a world title fight after the Derry fighter shot up to sixth in the WBA rankings this week.

McLoughlin, who has been training Coyle for the past six years out of his base in St Petersburg, Florida, believes the big fights are on the horizon for the 2014 Commonwealth Games medallist who is 'desperate' to become Derry's first world professional boxing champion.

The American, a former trainer of two-time light middleweight world champion Ronald 'Winky' Wright, believes 2023 will be 'Connor's year' and has several irons in the fire with some of the world's top promoters including Eddie Hearn's Matchroom and Bob Arum's Top Rank.

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McLoughlin revealed he's been in ongoing talks about the potential for Coyle to feature on the undercard of Katie Taylor's Irish homecoming show, expected to be hosted in front of 80,000 at Croke Park under the Matchroom banner next summer.

Croke Park stadium director, Peter McKenna, has recently confirmed that early summer time slots have been made available at GAA Headquarters for the potential rematch between Taylor and Amanda Serrano in what would be one of the biggest ever sporting events to take place in Ireland.

And Derry boxer, Coyle could feature with his trainer insisting Matchroom 'owe' the middleweight a debt following the collapse of his recent fight with Felix Cash when the London 02 Arena promotion was cancelled at the final hour due to headliner Conor Benn's failed drugs test.

Team Coyle lost out on a substantial fight purse not to mention the costs incurred for flights from the USA to London, accommodation and other expenses.

Coyle bounced back from that frustrating chapter when stretching his unblemished record to 18-0 with an impressive TKO of Sladan Janjanin last month in the first defence of his NABA middleweight title.

Connor Coyle, ranked six by the WBA, is hoping to feature on Katie Taylor's Croke Park show. Picture By Mark Robinson Matchroom Boxing

And McLoughlin expects 2023 to be the year the ex- St Joseph's ABC clubman makes major inroads towards that elusive world title shot and potentially secure a coveted spot on that mouthwatering Croke Park undercard.

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"Connor has improved so much with every fight," said McLoughlin. "He comes in with a little bit more stubbornness to do better every camp and he knows that every fight gets tougher. I mean he's now No. 6 in the world.

"It was a very big disappointment when we went over to London and the fight got cancelled because that would've put Connor on the map. He would've definitely beat that kid, Cash. There's no doubt in my mind and we would still take the fight with Cash but he won't fight Connor.

"Yeah, I think 2023 is going to be his year. I just need to keep him busy and we will definitely start getting the big fights now.

"I'm working on that very hard with Kevin Rooney, the matchmaker for Eddie Hearn," revealed McLoughlin. “We've signed a contract to fight Felix Cash. I keep telling them, ‘Felix Cash is still undefeated, let us fight him’. But they're not going to let that happen.

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"When we were at the public workout in London I had one of my guys stand behind one of Cash's team who was watching Connor train. I told Connor not to show a whole lot but he went out and showed great hand speed and Cash's trainer was saying; 'Look at the size of this guy for 160lb and the speed and the balance’.

"I knew then Felix wouldn't want to fight him. If we had fought him that night Connor would've destroyed him, there's no doubt about it,” he predicted.

Nothing is ever guaranteed in boxing but how realistic or achievable is that goal to secure a world title in the not-to-distant future?

"I believe it is achievable," he insisted. "A lot of it is about knowing how to negotiate. Politics in boxing has gotten in the way a lot of times,” he explained.

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"There were times when I thought I had good fights lined up and they fell through. A lot of times we've had to take fights for low money but if you don't keep the kid in the ring in front of a crowd, you lose something.

"He's been willing to come out here, train away from his family, train for small purses sometimes. We take good care of him over here and it's like a second home to him. He knows so many people and everywhere he goes everyone knows who Connor is."

Should the Croke Park fight fail to materialise, McLoughlin revealed he is pursuing several other opportunities and declared interest in a potential fight with big punching Mexican Jaime Munguia (41-0) who's currently ranked world No.1 by the WBO and WBC.

"I've spoken to all four of the big promoters in the last week-and-a-half and they all seem to have an interest so we're just waiting to see what they throw at us. "We would fight Jaime Munguia, who's 40-0 with 30 something knockouts but styles make fights and that's a great style for us.

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"Munguia is a monster puncher but Connor's speed and boxing ability would really give us a great chance in that fight. I keep throwing his name at him and we'll just see what sticks.

"If nothing else, we're holding a show in St Petersburg, Florida where I'm at and I’ll put him back in there just to keep him sharp but that's not until July.

"I expect to have him out before July, I really do. Right now I know he really wants to be on that Katie Taylor show and I would love to see him on that show so that's what I'm working on.

“I'm hoping they will put us on the show. Everybody from Derry would there. Connor will sell tickets and they (Matchroom) have nothing to lose.”

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FIGHT OFF: Connor Coyle's title fight with Felix Cash called off!