Comfortable Spike O’Sullivan driven to continue chasing
It you could allow this writer to don his Eddie Hearn hat for a second…
“Spike O’Sullivan has ‘won’ boxing”
Last month the Cork fighter bought a house for him and his young family, mortgage-free, in Togher.
Paid for by the purse from his WBA middleweight title final eliminator versus David Lemieux back in September, O’Sullivan has achieved a goal which the vast, vast majority of boxers never even come near.
The Leesider has elevated himself to levels that, without the sport, he could only dream of but the fire still burns.
His own financial security largely secured, O’Sullivan wants to press on and secure the futures of his four children as well as something purer.
Spike O’Sullivan wants to be a world champion.
The 34-year-old returns to the ring just 12 weeks on from his first round stoppage loss to Lemieux in Las Vegas, boxing on the Assassin Promotions ‘Homecoming’ bill at the Royal Theatre in Castlebar.
Chief support to gym-mate Ray Moylette, O’Sullivan will box live on TG4 in what will be his first fight in Ireland for over four years.
Most interestingly, the understated fight with Hungarian Gabor Gorbics marks the first on O’Sullivan’s way down to light middleweight.
While he won the Irish title and numerous rankings belts in the 160lbs middleweight class, the Celtic Warriors man admits he was always outsized in the division.
Moving down in weight in one’s 30s rarely leads to good results – with Nonito Donaire last month being part of the successful few, a class O’Sullivan believes he will join.
In a candid interview with Irish-Boxing.com, O’Sullivan is asked does he think making 154lbs will affect him in terms of punch power, punch resistance, stamina, or otherwise.
“I don’t believe so, I don’t think so,” responds the mustachioed Mahon man, between mouthfuls of a ready-made meal he is hungrily devouring in the sit-down area of the Centra supermarket in Corduff above which the Celtic Warriors Gym is tucked away.
“It seldom happens but Paschal [Collins, manager and coach] and my father have been saying it to me for fucking years, that I’m far too small for middleweight,” added the fighter who fought as low as featherweight in the amateurs.
“Even all the lads I’ve beat, [Anto] Fitzgerald, [Robbie] Long, they’ve all been taller than me, [Antoine] Douglas dwarfed me, Nick Quigley was massive, I was so much smaller than all them.”
“Lemieux was 18 pounds heavier than me in the ring, a stone and four pounds.”
And so we come to the power-punching Canadian who, following a bad-natured build-up, became the first man to knock O’Sullivan down when they clashed at the T-Mobile Arena in Sin City.
The Irishman took the result with good grace, but acknowledged the loss as the final sign that a move down was needed.
While O’Sullivan stayed close to the weight he tipped the scales at, Lemieux rehydrated massively, going from gaunt to gargantuan in the space of 30 hours.
He describes how “I was 158lbs on the morning so I had a cup of coffee, a few sips of water, and I left my watch on which we learnt was 0.4lbs, a pair of socks.”
“I came into the ring at 161lbs – Paschal haggled with them to say that it was 164.5lbs, I think they said 163lbs.”
“My ultimate dream is to become world champion, it’s always been my dream and it’s, realistically, more achievable at light middleweight.”
“It’s just a shame I’ve left it so late, maybe if I had been a light middleweight through my younger years maybe I’d have achieved it already.”
Receiving a vote of confidence from Golden Boy, O’Sullivan had his co-promotional deal retained and will now look to rebuild at light middle.
Stablemate and WBO light middleweight champion Jaime Munguia looks to be an obvious goal although the Mexican’s days in the weight category would seem to be numbered.
A vacant title fight with Dennis Hogan has been floated by both sides and the Corkonian’s big U.S. profile is very attractive to Golden Boy going forward.
O’Sullivan is just happy to be continually operating in the upper echelons of the sport and is aiming for more big wins and big purses.
The Murphys Boxing man described how “I’ve enjoyed the ride and I’ve no regrets, there’s no point in dwelling on anything. If I beat Lemieux I was going to fight Canelo and I was going to get millions, minnimum five.”
“It didn’t happen but I’m still in a good position, a better position that the majority of people.”
“I’m grateful for what I have – I have my health and reasonable wealth and I still have opportunities. I’m very positive and optimistic about the future.”
“I’ve got four young kids, I want to try set them up to. I bought a house there which I’m absolutely thrilled with and I feel absolutely lucky, not many people get to buy a house from boxing. I feel very grateful, massively so, I’ve been very lucky – and some hard work too.”
‘The Future’ begins on Friday with Gorbics, a quite durable Hungarian.
Sporting a record of 26(16)-13(5) with no notable wins outside of Hungary, ‘The Squirrel’ has come in for some criticism as a choice of comeback opponent.
Manager and coach Collins has cited budgetary constraints and opponents pricing themselves out of the fight – but O’Sullivan refuses to overlook what will be across the ring from him on Friday night.
Spike notes how “it’s a ‘getting back on the horse’ sort of fight but you can never underestimate anybody. I’m preparing for my opponent like anyone else and every has a puncher’s chance – and he has a good knockout ratio too.”
“He’s known about the fight for weeks, he’s going to be coming to fight. He’s coming to win and I can’t take anything for granted which has happened a lot of times in the past – me and Antoine Douglas, I went to Canada and they all thought he was going to beat me easily but that didn’t happen, and I don’t want that to happen to me.”
Fighting in Mayo, there is a ‘clean slate’ feeling for O’Sullivan who is fighting back in his homeland for the first time since his first round stoppage of Anto Fitzgerald, the night which really launched his career.
This was my last fight at home in Ireland it was four years ago today!
It’s only just over 3 weeks until I fight here in Ireland again @RoyalCastlebar on @TG4TV can’t wait! ☘☘☘👊
Thank you to @GoldenBoyBoxing @packycollins @KenDKM @AssassinBoxing for making it happen 👊👍 pic.twitter.com/jkotayMMmR
— Gary Spike OSullivan (@spike_osullivan) November 15, 2018
“I enjoy the journey,” says O’Sullivan. “Stateside, here, UK, great experiences, highs, lows, and you learn from the lows, it’s been very good and very educational and I’ve enjoyed it all – good and bad – looking back now.”
“It’s great to be back in Ireland, it’s nice for my own personal close fans who can’t afford to go to America. Mayo is a little bit less expensive,” he adds before laughing as he reveals that his family won’t be there for his most accessible fight in years.
“My missus had pre-booked a Christmas shopping date with my daughter in Dublin on December 7th, it’s been booked for months, she’s going up with her sisters and her mother.”
“They’re going the day before [the traditional December 8th Christmas Shopping Day], they’re looking to beat the rush!”
“They can watch it on TG4, though, that’s great!”
Photo Credit: Ricardo Guglielminotti – The Fighting Irish (@ThefIrish)