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No giant steps for King Kong – Collins says he still needs to bank experience

IT won’t quite be baby steps for fight ‘baby’ Jono Carroll, but the Prizefighter winner won’t be trying to run till he has walking experience under his belt, claims coach Pascal Collins.

Like the ‘King Kong’ character he uses as ring moniker, Carroll has come from nowhere and reeked havoc once unleashed. Within the space of a month he has gone from a two fight novice to a Prizefighter winner with names such as Stephen Foster, Gary Buckland and fellow Irish prospect Declan Geraghty on his record.

Forget explosive it has been a nuclear few weeks for the former Australian based pro. However, coach Collins is going to throw the reins on the rising meteor and claims the next year will be about banking experience as to ensure the Finglas man with Meath connections fulfills his promise.

The Prizefighter trophy doesn’t just come with a €40,000 cheque, but is accompanied by a ticket to big fights. A host of British winners have used Prizefighter success to take a short cut to domestic dust ups. Indeed, Martin Rogan the first ever winner went on to win the Commonwealth title and recorded victories over Audley Harrison and Matt Skelton. The tournament also provided the platform for WIllie Casey’s European title success and not long after blasting his way to victory was ‘Big Bang’ fighting for a World title.

Collins, who also trains Spike O’Sullivan, Stephen Ormond and Luke Keeler, however claims the infectious and extremely positive puncher won’t be rushed. The Celtic Warrior Gym boss claims the 22 year old will now focus on gaining fight experience to ensure when a big fights come around he has all bases covered.

“It was a quick rise for Jono, but he knows he has a lot to learn and there is still a long way to go in his career. He is 22, he in only a baby. People bring up Martin Rogan and Willie Casey’s wins and mention how quick they got big fights, but those are different cases,” Collins told Irish-boxing.com.

“Both were older and eager to push on. In Martin’s case he was around the scene for a long time and was over 30, he got big fights and done well, but he was experienced, maybe not in terms of number of fights, but as a man and considering how long he had been around the scene.

“Willie was that bit older too and he went on to win the European title, which is a great achievement. I never would have put him in with Rigondeaux, he hadn’t the experience banked to take that fight.

“Jono has so much talent and it is about nurturing that and making sure when he goes into big big fights he is ready for the step up. Yes he has won Prizefighter and beaten Geraghty, but he has yet to do six rounds. There are massive fights down the road for him, but it is about nurturing that talent and adding experience to it to ensure he is ready when they come,” the coach continued.

“So the plan is to get some six round fights, stepping it up in level of opponent each time, move to eight rounders and then next year win the Irish title. If you look at Stephen Ormond and Spike they can now handle the step up and are ready for the big stage. It would kill me to see anyone get a big fight and lose it not because they were less talented but because they lacked experience.”

When looking forward Collins might be pragmatic and that little bit cautious, but upon reflecting on the career changing tournament win the coach is a little more excitable.

The brother of Irish boxing legend Steve Collins couldn’t hide how happy he was for his ‘hard working’ charge, but wasn’t surprised the 14/1 outsider picked up the trophy. Indeed, Collins claims a draw most people argued was the hardest Carroll could have got was something he was delighted with pre tournament.

“Personally I am over the moon for Jono, not only did he win the tournament, but he came away with a win over Foster and Buckland,” he added/

“He had to fight the two favourites first, but honestly when I saw the draw I told him it fell in our favour. Both of those fighters are ten round fighters so you are better off getting them out early before the build momentum. Then when you beat the two favourites your full of confidence going into the final. I knew he would win the final he might have been in with better opponents, but he performed so well he was fresher than Devine.

“He took a risk fighting Deco, who is a great prospect, he won that fight, deservedly, and then gets a Prizefighter bonus. As we say in the gym ‘no guts no glory’. While there is room to learn and step up as you go there is no point in padding a record. Jono took a risk and got massive reward.”


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