‘A bit like Canelo’ – High praise for ‘special Pierce O’Leary

A number of Irish fighters have been compared to one Saul Canelo Alvarez over the years, but when Al Smith says Pierce O’Leary [6(2)-0] is ‘Canelo’ like he doesn’t mean he’s flamed haired.

The Dub’s London-based new coach claims the 20-year-old prospect has style similarities to pound-for-pound star.

Smith believes you can draw comparisons between the Mexican and Irish fighter’s approaches.

Not that the coach is saying the ambitious Inner City fighter is anywhere near the level of the reigning super middleweight world champion, rather he claims O’Leary’s ability to be defensively sound in the pocket reminds him of the future Hall of Fame fighter.

“Pierce has progressed incredible, he’s got that style, which is a box puncher, he has that style that is a little bit like Canelo, where he is able to defend and ride shots and still be inside,” Smith said of the welterweight who defeated Irvine Magno on Friday night.

Smith also pointed out he isn’t the only one to be impressed by the progress ‘Big Bang’ has made.

“We took him sparring over with Adam Booth, who probably has the best eye in the business and he said ‘he’s special’. He is a polite boy, very well mannered and for me he could be one to really watch out for.”

There was massive excitement surrounding O’Leary when he first turned over. Most of that was generated by the fact he had displayed genuine knockout power but he has shown a real boxing intelligence over the last year or so, refining his style to become a composed aggressive counter puncher.

‘I found my style,” O’Leary said after the win.

“I always had that in me, but I wasn’t working on it. Going pro I thought it was all about power, you’ve to knock people out and that, but it’s not. You have to slow down, pace yourself, look for the right shots and the right time and then the knockouts will come. Al and Ed noticed I was a good counter puncher and that is the style we developed.”

Jonny Stapleton

Irish-boxing.com contributor for 15 years and editor for the past decade. Have been covering boxing for over 16 years and writing about sport for a living for 19 years. Former Assistant Sports editor for the Gazette News Paper Group and former Tallaght Voice Sports Editor. Have had work published in publications around the world when working as a freelance journalist. Also co-founder of Junior Sports Media and Leinster Rugby PRO of the Year winner. email: editoririshboxing@gmail.com