Craig O’Brien has learnt lessons from Anthony Fowler defeat

Craig O’Brien [8(0)-1(1)] is allergic to cheese – in the boxing sense – so he was never going to use a ‘win or learn’ one-liner.

However, in his own unique, honest, and approachable way, he said as much when reflecting on his first career defeat to Anthony Fowler.

After adding the Irish light middleweight title to his list of pro accolades with victory over Jay Byrne live on TG4 in March, O’Brien travelled to London and fought vaunted Matchroom prospect Anthony Fowler at the O2.

The July fight represented a massive breakthrough chance for in-the form BUI Celtic champion and was one he was confident of taking.

However, while he asked more questions of Fowler than any of the Liverpool’s previous  opponents O’Brien was ultimately stopped by a big left hook at the beginning the sixth round.

Considering he surprised the UK fight fans and media with flashes of natural ability, the reverse went down as one of those gallant Irish defeats.

However, the fighter himself doesn’t see it that way.

With time to reflect O’Brien, who returns to the ring in Mayo on the TG4-broadcast ‘Homecoming’ card, feels he underperformed.

Speaking to he claimed he didn’t do enough on the night, but looks back at the experience as a positive.

Not only did the Paschal Collins-trained fighter enjoy his time in the spotlight, he believes he learnt a lot from the bout and it appears the fact he sees massive room for improvement has convinced him that, rather than ‘find his level’, he learnt the level of performance he has to reach to beat top-end prospects.

“I loved every minute of July 28. I loved every minute of that and if you don’t learn from those fights there is something wrong. Honestly I learnt a lot from it. It’s about taking that into the ring the next time,” O’Brien told before breaking down what he has taken on-board since.

“I just think I didn’t do enough. I didn’t leave it all in the ring.”

“I felt okay in there and maybe I need to go to another gear. The next time an opportunity like that comes around it’s about leaving it all in there. I didn’t express myself like I should. I could have engaged more.”

O’Brien was most likely down on the scorecards, but he wasn’t losing rounds in the matador v bull affair by much.

He feels he could have imposed himself more and believes an increase in tempo and a little more aggression would have lead to more success.

“I didn’t engage enough but, when I did. I caused damage. If you look at it I cut him and, bar the knockdown, which in fairness to him was some knockdown, I hadn’t a mark on me.”

“He had a black eye and bruises. I really feel I could have done more,” he added before stating his confidence wasn’t damaged by the result.

“I got stopped but I can still take confidence from it. It’s learning from it, isn’t it? I didn’t do enough but when I was getting my shots off and working I was in the fight.”

“That was a good thing, but it’s about doing that more consistently over the rounds, taking your chance and leaving it all in there.”

O’Brien has glided to the majority of his pro wins to date using a superior skillset and boxing brain to secure checkmate. However, starting with Croatian journeyman Almin Kovacevic [12(4)-27(11)-3] in Castlebar next Friday he will look to add a bit more spite to his approach. 

“That is the plan now for this fight. Be busier and maybe a bit more imposing. I am banging harder now, you should have seen the spars me and Spike are after having. We went hell for leather for the last four of a six round spar on his first one back, no feeling it out.”

“I am banging a bit more. I am getting my shots off and then I am moving instead of moving with my shots. I am learning loads. I want to get this fight in and then look forward.”

Photo Credit: Ricardo Guglielminotti – The Fighting Irish (@ThefIrish)


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Jonny Stapleton 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: