One of just two of the original line-up remaining, alongside old amateur opponent Roy Sheahan, Blaney has been called-out, has sparred, and has some roundabout history with others in the tournament.
The Navan middleweight has had a long time to prepare for the big-money night, live on TG4, and is confident that he is ready for the single-elimination tournament.
“Preparations have gone great, I feel great, so I can’t wait to get back into the ring,” he told Irish-Boxing.com
“I’ve obviously been reading all about the pull-outs and replacements but it didn’t really bother me, I had a feeling there would be a few pulling out.”
“I just kept my head down and trained and left all the worry to the promoters and I knew they’d come good – and they have.”
With all the chopping and changing, Blaney did not know at the time but has actually been sparring one of his rivals for the guaranteed minimum €25,000 top prize.
Rangey Bolton-Dublin fighter Jack Cullen [9(3)-0] was a late addition to the eight-man line-up for the competition at the National Stadium, and Blaney feels confident having shared the ring with ‘Little Lever’s Meat Cleaver’.
‘The Ginger Ninja’ described how “Cullen was one of my last spars.”
“Look, if we meet in this I think he’ll be the one changes his tactics. Me and my team, we were very happy with that spar, but that’s only a spar, anything can happen on the night so I’m taking nothing from our spars.”
26 this month, the Meath fighter is laidback ahead of the high-profile tournament, and also laughed off some earlier trash-talk from fellow entrant JJ McDonagh.
The Irish super middleweight champion had taken umbrage with Blaney’s long-term plan to win the belt, and called to face the Ricky Hatton-trained fighter in the opening round.
Blaney, however, believes this to be a show of weakness rather than a show of strength.
“JJ has been trying to talk some shit,” noted the ten-time underage Irish champion.
“Every interview he’s been on he’s mentioned my name so I must be in his head already. I’ll let him do all his talking if he wants but, deep down, I know he doesn’t want to face me.”
With a 9-0 record, a strong amateur pedigree, and a full camp, Blaney is likely to be one of four seeded boxers announced tonight and will probably get the chance to choose his quarter-final opponent from the four unseeded boxers.
Blaney already has his eye on one fighter, and admitted that “I’d like Owen Jobburn.”
“I think he got a draw against my old gym mate Sam [Evans], so it would be nice to get one up on him.”
“But I think everyone can be dangerous on their night so it’s lining up to be a cracking night and I’m glad to be part of it.”
Photo Credit: Laszlo Geczo Photography