The reigning U18 lightweight champion stepped up to light welter and claimed top prize at the National Senior [Intermediate] Championships at the weekend before immediately setting her sights on the Elite title currently held by Joanne Lambe
O’Callaghan defeated Isabella Hughes, overcoming a scrappy opener to overpower her Mount Tallant opponent and taking a 4-1 split in her maiden Senior fight.
The Clann Naofa talent now cuts an imposing figure and broke Hughes down over the nine minutes of action, forcing a count in the third and perhaps unlucky not to force a stoppage.
The 18-year-old has noticed this and told Irish-Boxing.com afterwards that “I’m feeling a lot stronger, I’ve done a lot of strength and conditioning, and I’ve put on a lot of muscle. I feel very strong.”
“She was awkward because she was a novice, it’s always going to be awkward fighting someone who is so inexperienced. But I tried my best and did it.”
“I feel like that I am a senior boxer now and I’m ready for the Elites in February.”
The Crossmaglen puncher is confident in herself and her own abilities and believes that she can win the Elite title in February.
Reigning champion Lambe won the title this year on a walkover but there could be more competition in 2019. Amy Broadhurst reached the quarter-finals of the World Championships last month and it is currently unsure whether she will be dropping down to lightweight to challenge World Champion Kelly Harrington as the Olympic Cycle heats up. Then there is also Ciara Ginty who has returned from welterweight, with other entries also possible.
O’Callaghan remains confident, however, and noted how “people will doubt me because it will be my first time going in and I’ll be one of the younger ones but I feel like, if I train my hardest, I can beat anyone at my weight.”
“Especially with all the strength and conditioning and moving up in weight, I am stronger.”
“I never go in thinking [it is a learning experience], what is the point of that? You learn in training, in sparring, in camp. I go into a fight knowing that I’m going to win and I feel that I’m going to win in every fight.”
O’Callaghan is doubling down on boxing as she leaves the underage ranks and is determined to make a real impact in the sport.
At a time when many waiver, the Armagh boxer’s commitment is intensifying.
O’Callaghan outlined how “you do make a lot of sacrifices as you get older and there are a lot of obstacles you have to overcome – I work full-time and I go to college as well training full-time.”
“I’ll be going into the Elites with a lot of people who are paid and train full-time, they don’t have a job. I feel like it’s harder for me but that will make it all the more sweeter when I win.”
“I want to achieve as much as I can as an amateur – I don’t think I’ll ever go pro – I’m hoping to go to the Olympics, although that could be out the window! But I want to be a European Champion and a World Champion and go as long as I can!”