Everything starting to fall into place for new Massachusetts State champion Niall Kennedy

Niall Kennedy [8(5)-0] had to go through some ropey moments on Saturday en-route to a first pro title and a career-best win.

The Wexford heavyweight stopped Jesse Barboza in the eighth and final round of their Massachusetts State title fight at the House of Blues in Boston.

However, Kennedy himself admits that there were times during the bout where he felt that he might not have seen the final bell.

Speaking to Irish-Boxing.com afterwards, Boom Boom Baz explained that “that was my first eight rounder, and I was saying to Packie [Collins, trainer] in the fourth that I thought I was going to blow and he told me I wouldn’t.”

“Paschal kept telling me, ‘Niall, I’ve seen you in the gym, sick, doing six rounds, you can do this four rounds easy.'”

“I’d say I train harder than any heavyweight. I train for every fight like it’s a World title fight. It’s confidence, I lack self-confidence a lot of the time. I just need to build and work on that work rate.”

In terms of the fight itself, the Gorey Garda took positives and negatives. Kennedy noted how “I’m frustrated with myself, I thought I was getting him out in the second and I thought he was going, but he was awkward – holding and leaning,”

“It got to the stage though where I caught him with solid shots when it didn’t look like I was going to get rid of him. Paschal just kept saying to me to establish the jab.”

“Probably my work-rate needs to be working on, I can get lazy at times and allow people to sneak rounds.”

On the positive side, Kennedy admitted that “I was happy with the finish, really happy. It was crisp and it wasn’t loaded. Packie has been saying that to me recently, ‘Niall your power is there now, but don’t be loading,’ and I think I did that.”

I think I have a good chin, my conditioning is getting better. He seemingly had power – I never got caught with anything – but everyone out here was coming up to me during the week and saying watch his overhand right. He had nine knockouts so I had to respect that – but I felt grand, fitness was good. I’m hoping for the next fight, I’ll be stronger again, and keep improving”

The big stage was rather new for Kennedy, who even got to experience his first tense head-to-head. The former Elite Senior runner up, seen by many as one of the nicest guys in Irish boxing, laughed at how Barboza “wound me up at the weigh-in, and I’ve never had that before, I hadn’t a clue!”

“He came up and threw the head on me, we were there and staring then I threw my head in too. I was going to do a Spike [O’Sullivan] on it, I was going to kiss him, then I said that I wont take Spike’s thing!”

For Kennedy, there is a real sense that he has made a big breakthrough, and that he will be a big part of the growing Murphys Boxing outfit going forward.

“Out here we’re starting to get noticed, it was sold out three weeks ago,” he said

“Bringing that [the title] back to Gorey Boxing Club, it might get kids in through the door. I’m proud because they put me on the road, Paschal is bringing me the rest of the way, my wife is supporting me better than anybody ever could. Eight wins, five knockouts – for a lad that has no power I’m doing alright!”

“Everything in life is starting to fall into place.”

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

Joe O'Neill

Reporting on Irish boxing the past five years. Work has appeared on irish-boxing.com, Boxing News, the42.ie, and local and national media. Provide live ringside updates, occasional interviews, and special features on the future of Irish boxing. email: joneill6@tcd.ie