Craig O’Brien considers changing weight for Celtic title fight following another classy win
Craig O’Brien [5(0)-0] put disappointment to the back of his mind to produce one of the performances of the night in the National Stadium on Saturday.
The Dubliner found out his September plans to challenge for the Celtic light middleweight title had been scuppered just minutes after he weighed in for his six round clash Christian Hoskin Gomez on Friday afternoon.
‘The Iron’ had hoped to get a win in Dublin on Saturday then fight Ger Healy in Belfast in September. The bout seemed all but made, but O’Brien was informed that not only would Healy not be able to make light middle, but that Kieran Farrell had pushed his proposed September show back to later in the year.
“The plan for me was the Celtic title in September. So when I saw Kieran Farrell yesterday I asked him about the Ger Healy fight and he said they don’t think Healy would make light middle now and the show has been pushed back to November. I was a bit gutted yesterday,” O’Brien explained.
It wasn’t quite the news he wanted to hear, but O’Brien was keen to stay positive. The popular natural talent has known rough times in the past and although he doesn’t like to reflect on them coming through them does seem to help him to remain positive.
“I would take it at middleweight, but if you take it at middle you would probably end up staying at middle. I am a light middleweight so I just have to stay in the gym and keep improving and moving forward.”
“The plan at the start of the year was three fights and a Celtic title. Going off the back of that I want another six rounder and I would move to middle for the Celtic title in November, but I don’t want to stay there.”
“It’s only my second fight in 24 months. From where I was before I never thought I would be back here. I don’t really look at it that way, people say it to me all the time, but I prefer to look forward.”
“No matter where I go from here it’s all victory. That doesn’t mean I am not working hard to achieve more. I am going to keep improving.”
The inner-city fighter has certainly improved since making his debut out of the blue back in 2015. Such has been the quality of his displays against game Spaniards in his past two fights, some ringside were suggesting he is ready to make the step up to domestic level at the very least.
Indeed, throw a bit more power into the mix and there are those who were claiming the Dub would have all the tools needed to make a real impact on game.
O’Brien hasn’t any knockouts to his name as of yet, but suggests they are coming – indeed he buzzed the notably tough Gomez at the close of the first.
“When you’re in there it’s all speed, speed, speed. You’re not relaxed like you should be. When I am relaxed I hit harder. I sparred with Luke [Keeler] last week and was relaxed and he told me I was hitting harder.”
“The more fights I get the more relaxed I will be in the ring and then I will automatically hit harder,” he added before he discussed his win in more detail.
“He was on the ball. I only got him Friday and I never look at fighters, but I had to look at him. He got a draw with my mate Ciaran [Mullen] and he took rounds off Blaney so I knew he was tough.”
“If you look at all my four fights I have rarely been hit. I never stood with anyone, where in there I stood a little. I let them go in close and I got hit, but it’s good to know I can take a punch.”
“I think he caught me four or five clean punches, the last fight I think he caught me with one, so it’s good to know I can stand there and take a few.”
The Paschal Collins-trained puncher completed six rounds for the second time in his career and, while he is keen to fight over eight for a title before the year is out, O’Brien admits it may be two more camps before he feels really at home competing over six rounds.
“I reckon it might be another two fights were I am flat out comfortable at six. I was breathing a bit in there, but it’s camps that get you ready for more rounds. Another two camps and I’d do six easier then.”
“See McGregor? – Not a hope he is doing 12 rounds. You’re not getting fit for that in 10 wees, it’s impossible. Camp after camp you build it and it all becomes natural.”
Photo Credit: Laszlo Geczo Photography