The Clonmel heavyweight retained his Irish title at the weekend, beating Martin Keenan with his most impressive domestic performance yet.
It was a repeat of last year’s final – and the infamous 2017 box-off – and Gardiner claimed his most decisive win over the Limerick fighter to date, dropping Keenan in the first en-route to a unanimous decision win.
‘Breakfast’ now wants to translate this onto the international scene and claim a first major medal – aside from his agonising silver in the 2016 World Olympic qualifier.
Gardiner outlined how “I’m just happy with the performance, it was all about getting the win and we got it.
“I’m happy with my performance after getting my hand raised.”
“He’s a tough boy, he got up after being dropped.”
31 this week, Gardiner retains his Olympic dream having been pipped at the final hurdle by long-time rival and current Top Rank star Guido Vianello back in 2016.
So often on the wrong end of split-decisions, bad draws, and worse luck, the persevering puncher is determined to have a big year.
Having competed in the inaugural edition in Baku back in 2015, the Tipperary giant has his eye on the European Games in Minsk, Belarus, this June and Tokyo 2020 beyond this, believing that he can win a medal.
Always improving, Gardiner described how “the main thing is the European Games and there’s a rumour going around that that may be a [Olympic] qualifier itself. If it is, that’s brilliant, I’ve got my spot on the plane.”
“It’s like a mini Olympics, it’s a great experience and this time I think I’m a better and more rounded fighter. I’m well-seasoned and experienced amateur now, I’m going in there to medal.”
“Look, I’m not going to get another chance at the Olympics after this. I know last week I was saying I didn’t know what I was doing, maybe going pro but, for now, it’s the Olympics.”
“I’ll just put the work in and hopefully it will work out for me,” added the well-like fighter who would go on to pay tribute to those backing him.
“I’d like to thank my club, they support me inside and outside of the ring. Martin, Robbie, Bobby, John, all the people that help me; Sean, PJ Dwyer, I’ve a great team behind me, I’m lucky.”
Photo Credit: Ricardo Guglielminotti – The Fighting Irish (@ThefIrish)