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Olympian Darren O’Neill confirms debut date

Ireland’s London 2012 Olympic captain will make his pro debut in Belfast next month.

One of the countries more respected operators in recent times Darren O’Neill made the out of the blue conformation that he had teamed up with trainer Steven O’Rourke and will embark on a pro career in July.

The Kilkenny favourite predicted an Ocotber debut, a prediction that has proved correct as he was today confirmed on the ‘He Who Dares’ card set for the Devinish on October 25.

The Paulstown BC graduate joins gym stablemate PaddyNevin and Belfast duo Ruahdan Farrell and Matthew Fitzsimons on the Mickey Helliet and Slater Sports card.

O’Neill will fight at light heavyweight and step straight into six rounds action when he takes on  Norbert Szekeres [18(9)-75(22)-4].

O’Neill becomes both a surprise and big name addition to the ever growing pro circuit.

He was last seen in the ring wearing the vest in the 2017 European Championships and has competed since.

Age was a factor, but his standing as an amateur stalwart and devotee stopped most from predicting any form of pro career for O’Neill.

Indeed, the majority predicted his experience, profile, standing and even image made him ideal to get involved in the IABA or even the High Performance unit.

However he has now at the age of 33 punches for pay for the first time in just over a months time.

The decorated amateur has been training in St Michaels Inchicore under  O’Rourke and has moving forward will work alongside the likes of of BUI Celtic Champion Victor Rabei, former amateur colleague Tony Browne, heavyweight Paddy Nevin, Craig McCarthy and soon to be debutant Paul McDonnell.

As an amateur O’Neill was one of the more recognizable vest wearers. He has success on the international stage winning European Championship silver in 2010 and EU gold and silver as a middle and light heavy in 2009 and 2014 respectively.

The former Kilkenny Under-21 hurler also qualified for the London 2012 Olympics were he captained Team Ireland.

The 33 year old was a winner of four middleweight national titles and two heavyweight crowns.

While the fighter himself will solely be focused on what he can achieve in the ring, some will view his move into paid ranks as a big boost for the image of boxing outside Belfast.

Similar to the likes of Eric Donovan, O’Neill already has a sizable profile and a clean cut image that helps in terms of garnering wider media interest, which is something the sport and other active fighters can benefit from.


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