Conor Cooke left disappointed following second pro win

Conor Cooke moved to 2-0 on Saturday night but it is a case of back to the drawing board for the perfectionist puncher.

The Antrim Town cruiser outpointed tough Pole Pawel Strykowski over four rounds at the Shorts Sports and Social Club on the ‘Back in Belfast’ card on the Holywood Road.

However, Cooke was not happy with his 40-37 win, feeling he was not as explosive or as impressive as he was planning to be.

The MMA convert had scored a stunning second round stoppage in his debut in Dublin during the Summer and, in the eyes of most, put on a good performance on Saturday night, exhibiting his skillset, before tiring slightly in the fourth and final round.

However, Cooke demands better of himself and told afterwards that “I didn’t feel myself. What I had to do, in my head, I didn’t do it – although that was probably down to his good work on the inside. He was awkward, he was long, and he didn’t come to fuck about, that’s for sure. It was a good fight.”

“Dee [Walsh, coach] kept telling me, ‘jab, move, jab, move, check hook, then cross to the body’ – but there’s only so much you can do that before your guy catches on! I did try to stick to it, that’s what Dee wanted me to do, play safe and get the rounds in – and I felt I did close to what he asked, I had to adapt.”

The Rathenraw puncher admits he felt sluggish before the bout and feels there is some tinkering to be done ahead of his next fight.

‘Da Crook’ Cooke explained how “before that fight, I was feeling good in the gym, I was moving really well, I felt like I was going to come in tonight and put on a show I felt class till about 20 minutes before the fight – then, in the changing rooms, I just sort of hesitated.”

“I don’t know if it was tiredness – I was working this morning and I was working last night, I’m a doorman and I work in a gym taking classes – maybe I should have taken a bit of time off, I’m working every day.”

“I was falling asleep getting my hands wrapped! Andy O’Neill had to spray me with water to wake me up!”

A boxer initially, Cooke spent his 20s in mixed martial arts where it is often a case of 50-50 fights from day one.

The 31-year-old is happy to take a more gradual, developmental approach in boxing and outlined his intention to “go with the flow, maybe get a few more fours in.”

“I want to feel fresh in the fourth round before I go to a six. I don’t want to jump no queue or push anything, I’ll go with the flow.”

I want to be busy as hell next year, I want to have six fights.”

“I was in MMA for ten years, I’m still adjusting. Boxing is a lot harder, there’s more shots, more moving, MMA you can hit one shot and it’s all over, or you can takedown or grapple or clinch and get a rest. Boxing takes way more out of you.”

“I’m just trying my best to adapt.”


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Joe O'Neill

Reporting on Irish boxing the past five years. Work has appeared on, Boxing News,, and local and national media. Provide live ringside updates, occasional interviews, and special features on the future of Irish boxing. email: