Niall Kennedy is backing himself to outbox Alexis Santos in their big headline fight next month – but he has warned that he will be able to bully and break up the New England champion if needs be.
Wexford heavyweight Kennedy [8(5)-0] fights Santos on Friday September 15th in the headline attraction of a DiBella Entertainment card at the Foxwoods Resort and Casino in Connecticut.
While he is the away fighter, the Gorey garda believes he is better in all departments than his rising American opponent.
“I think my boxing is way better,” Kennedy told Irish-Boxing.com ahead of the ten-round fight for the New England and IBO International belts.
“But if Plan A doesn’t work, we have Plan B and we have Plan C to go to.”
“I’m pushing back guys [in sparring] who have two stone on me, bullying them.”
“That’s not the plan but, if it goes that way, we’ll be able to do that. I’ve worked a lot with Ivan Lynch, a new guy doing my strength work, he’s improved me a lot.”
“I’ll be about 220 coming into the ring. I’d say he’ll be a bit heavier. Heavier is better for me, I hope he’s a bit heavier.”
‘Boom Boom Baz’ is deep in camp at the Celtic Warriors Gym in Corduff and believes he is already in the best condition of his career.
“I’ve worked very hard,” states Kennedy.
“We think we have everything covered. If he’s a better boxer, fair play to him. If he’s a faster puncher, fair play to him. But he hasn’t got a bigger heart than me.”
Santos [18(15)-1(1)] comes to the ring with a lot more pro fights than Kennedy, being scheduled for eight or more rounds six times compared to the Irishman’s once. He does have very limited amateur, a point Santos conceded himself, but Kennedy does not give this much weight.
The 2006 Intermediate champion described how Santos “had a very limited amateur career, but my amateur career was shite if you look at it. I don’t know if it makes much difference.”
“Most of the top Americans are like that. [Dominic] Breazeale had very few amateur fights and went to the Olympics, [Deontay] Wilder had very few amateur fights and he went to the Olympics. What they do over there is that most of them are in pro gyms from a very young age.”
“I’ll have experience on him, but does amateur experience really count?”
Instead Kennedy prefers to look at his exploits in the pros – such as his eighth round stoppage of Jesse Barboza for the Massachusetts State title, one of the few opponents to take Santos the distance.
“If you look through our opponents there are a lot of similar opponents – and I think I’ve done it a little bit classier every time. He has 18 fights, 17 wins, his one loss was an injury. I class him as unbeaten.”
That said, Kennedy acknowledges the size of the task he is presented with in just over two weeks time – but he believes he has enough to upset the house favourite.
“Alexis is a quality operator,” he admits. “He’s dynamic, he bangs. I’ve heard loads about him and watched clips.”
“I’ve a weird style, there’s not many heavyweights that do what I do, so I’ll let them figure me out – let them come on to a negative bastard who can bang a little bit.”
“I think I’ll stop him late to be honest, I think he’ll blow a gasket.”
“I want it. He has two belts and that’s driving me on.”
Indeed Kennedy plans to dominate and leave no doubt on the ‘Broadway Boxing card. The 33 year old explained that “I’ve had five fights, this will be my sixth, in America, and I’ve always been treated very fairly. If I’m outclassing him, it’s not going to make a difference.”
“If I’m doing stupid stuff, which I can do, it will make a difference then because they’re going to side with him probably – but that would be my fault.”
Niall Kennedy is supported by Murphy’s Boxing, Conal’s Tree Services, Fun Palace Casino, and the Amber Springs Hotel.
Photo Credit: Ricardo Guglielminotti – The Fighting Irish (@ThefIrish)