NOEL MURPHY’S showdown with Josue 'The Prodigy' Vargas at New York’s Madison Square Garden has been upgraded to a title fight.
Both men will meet for the IBF North American title on the Terence Crawford versus Egidijus Kavaliauskas and Michael Conlan versus Vladimir Nikitin undercard on December 14.
Belfast feather Conlan faces Nikitin in a rematch of their highly controversial Rio 2016 quarter-final which the Russian was adjudged to have won.
Puerto Rico-born Vargas fights out of the Bronx and is one of Top Rank’s hottest prospects. The 21-year-old has won 15 of his 16 outings.
His only defeat was on a disqualification against Sam Santana in Las Vegas in 2016 after he hit his opponent after the ref was moving in to administrate a count in Las Vegas.
Vargas was dominating proceedings before he punched Santana as he was going down.
Murphy’s coach Tom Power told The Echo that they have a trick up their sleeves and expressed confidence that the Macroom southpaw will win.
Top Rank boss Bob Arum described the December 14 promotion as the “card of the year” and Murphy, who has moved back to Cork after fighting out of New York for several years, will be more than up for it.
“I’m confident, it’s unbelievable to have it on such a big card as well, said the Cork man who is training in Macroom.
“A win would push me on to bigger things.
“These are the fights I want.”
Murphy’s manager Kevin Crowley said the 25- year-old Rebel lefty (14-1-1) was buzzing when he got the fight and with a title on the line is now even more motivated.
“He’s very excited to be fighting for a belt at the mecca of boxing and will do everything he can to bring that belt back home to Cork for Christmas,” said Crowley.
Conlan’s grudge match with Nikitin will also guarantee that Murphy will have plenty of Irish support in Manhattan.
Speaking to The Echo from the National Stadium in Dublin where Ireland met Russia in 2017, Nikitin said that he felt it was a close fight with Conlan in Rio, which is one way of putting it.
All 36 referees and judges (R&Js) were indefinitely banned from boxing after that and other controversial decisions at the 31st Olympiad.
The International Boxing Association (AIBA) have also been banned from any involvement with Tokyo 2020 Olympic because of concerns about governance and referring and judging and have been replaced by an International Olympic Committee (IOC) task force.
The IOC announced this week that all of the above R&Js from Rio are banned from the Tokyo 2020 Olympics amid speculation that some of the R&Js could be used again.
An International Boxing Association (AIBA) Commission ruled after the Rio Games that while the majority of R&Js in Rio were not guilty of any wrongdoing that they had a moral duty to report any wrongdoings.
Boxing was almost booted out of the Olympics because of controversial calls in Rio and AIBA governance.
Conlan, in his infamous outburst, described the AIBA as rotten to the core.
He was fined 10,000 Swiss Francs for that outburst but told the AIBA that he will never pay the sanction.
The IOC task force for boxing said that they’re committed to clarity and transparency in the selection process for boxing officials under the independent supervision of PwC.
PwC independently monitored boxing at last year’s Youth Olympic in Buenos Aires and no controversial decisions were reported.
Meanwhile, Murphy will meet Vargas over 10 rounds in the biggest fight of his pro career on December 14.
“This is the big one,” added Crowley,” and Noely can’t wait to step in the ring.”