Introducing: Owen O’Neill


Owen O’Neill understands why he has doubters, because up and until recently he was one himself.

The new to the game pro turns over under the guidance for Boxing Ireland and is confident a successful career lies ahead.

However, there does seem to be some who have questions with regard to the Belfast welter and O’Neill seems to know why.

There are some who have wondered if O’Neill had the dedication to forge a successful career, but the 23-year-old isn’t upset with those with worries as he was part of their group before he put his head down after Christmas.

“I can see why some people would doubt me and before I was actually going to turn pro I worried about it,” he told Irish-Boxing.com.

“I was always thinking what people would say and think, but now I know how hard I’m training and how well I’m sparring. I am sparring with cracking boxers and now I believe in myself and believe that I’ll go far.”

“I’ll always have doubters though I suppose it’s good because I’ll prove them wrong,” added the fighter who has lost a substantial amount of weight for his pro move.

owen o'neill

With this in mind, O’Neill, who debuts on ‘Celtic Clash 8’ at The Devenish Venue on Saturday May 25th, doesn’t follow a well trodden path to the pro ranks.

The former St Michael’s and Monkstown fighter revealed he all but fell into punching for pay after he began training under Gerard McManus – coach of Commonwealth Games gold medallist and former Celtic champ Paddy Gallagher.

“I always loved the pro game, just everything about it. I just started training with Gerard McManus and was just going to keep training then see what happens, but I started sparring the boys in the stable and was doing really well.”

“Then I just got advice not to wait around, get signed, make my debut as soon as possible and haven’t looked back so far,” he adds before expressing his pre-debut excitement.

“I am proper buzzing. I’m taking my body to places it’s never been. I’m dedicating my life now, there can’t be no messing around during camps or out of them. I just can’t wait to get the first one over and done with get the win and move on.”

The power-punching red-head could be viewed as one of those ‘suited to the pros’ amateurs. O’Neill is hoping to refine his style somewhat, but is promising fans he will be an exciting addition to one of the more exciting domestic divisions.

One of the newest Boxing Ireland signings outlined how “I’m a come-forward fighter although I am in the process of turning myself into an all-round boxer.”

“I want to be in cracking fights I love a brawl here and there but I am trying to get out of that habit as the pro game is too dangerous for that.”

With the number of new pros increasing at a never seen before rate and the make up of the Celtic Clash shows opportunities are coming earlier than ever for young Irish pros.

O’Neill isn’t adverse to domestic titles, but claims his focus for now is solely his debut.

“I want to be active this year as it’s my first year. I want to get a good few fights and learn from them. One of my first titles I would want would be a Irish title or something along them lines, but for now just want to get me debut done and dusted and see what’s next.

“I haven’t really thought much about the opponent though, Gerard and Dan [Anderson, strength and conditioning] have me flying so I’m ready for anyone really,” he adds before revealing the reaction to his debut is much bigger than he expected.

“I’m so surprised so many people have bought tickets off me already. It’s madness! I’ve a cracking crowd going so hopefully they make plenty of noise and I do the business and we are all happy.”

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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 sport for a living for 19 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