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Darren O’Neill wants to nail ‘The Hammer’ – former amateur standout would debut against Padraig McCrory

Darren O’Neill still has a desire to fight in the pro and would be open to fighting Padraig McCrory [10(4)-0] in Belfast this July.

‘Mr Amateur Boxing’ surprised everyone late last year when he revealed he was turning pro at the at age of 34.

The Kilkenny man was set for an October debut in Belfast and was talking about fast tracking his way to domestic titles.

However, that card was pulled and things went quiet on the O’Neill front. Many feared he would go the same route as fellow former amateur standout Roy Sheahan and leave things at that.

But speaking to Irish-boxing.com this week, the decorated amateur expressed a willingness to fight – and even suggested he was willing to face BUI Celtic super middleweight champion McCrory.

“I’d still be interested in having few fights. I don’t see any shows going ahead in July but if conditions allowed I’d be happy to take a fight,” O’Neill told Irish-boxing.com.

One card he’d be happy to appear on would be the #MTKFightNight being discussed for July.

Fight boss Jamie Conlan has revealed plans are in place for an all Irish card and has mentioned St James’s super middle McCrory as one of the participants.

O’Neill is more than willing to step up to the plate and declared that “I’d be happy to fight Padraig if I could get down the weight or he could met me halfway?”

It was be a baptism of fire for a fighter yet to taste pro action. Even with that the St Pauls graduate is confident his skills would bank him enough rounds to secure victory.

“I guess without pro experience I don’t know,” he answers honestly when asked how the fight would go.

“I’d expect my experience would be enough to control the fight technically for early rounds and the later rounds would see how well I’d adapt.”

If the McCrory fight doesn’t come off the European silver medal winner is still keen to fight and wants to get active as soon as possible.

“I’d like to get on a card as soon as I can. I was meant to fight in October but I believe there was a sanctioning issue and all Irish licensed fighters were pulled from the card,” he adds.

The cancellation of that was the first out of the ring punch in the mouth O’Neill suffered and he points out it is frustrating as a professional in Ireland at present.

“It’s frustrating but I guess this whole debacle has made it even worse, but definitely annoying. I just want to enjoy a few fights while I’m still capable and there’s a lot of hurdles and politics in the way at every turn.”

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 sports for a living for over 20 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