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Lead by example – Kennedy explains reason behind retirement reversal

One look at his son and Niall Kennedy [13(8)-2(2)-1] knew he would fight on.

The popular big man was so heartbroken and dejected post his stoppage defeat to Croatian Alen Babic live on Sky Sports, that he was ready to throw his gloves away never mind just hand them up.

The Gorey heavy was dead set on retiring and ready to walk away from fighting.

However, after spending some time with his son, MJ, who himself is a renowned battler, Kennedy knew he couldn’t end it on that note.

The proud father, who returns to the ring alongside his Celtic Warrior stablemates in Belgium this Saturday, wants to teach his son quitting is not an option – and felt he couldn’t do that if he walked away at this stage.

“I was so down after the fight. Listen, losing hurts, but losing knowing you haven’t turned up and performed is far harder,” Kennedy told Irish-boxing.com.

“I was heartbroken. I wanted to throw away gloves as my head was very down but then I got home and spending time with MJ I realised I couldn’t let him ever see quitting is an option in life.”

“Anyone who knows me knows that wasn’t me [in the ring with Babic]. I am not the best fighter in the world but I fear nobody, so I need to show that more.”

Every fighter will come to a stage where it’s time to finish or reach their level and retirement comes to them all.

Kennedy could have argued the end of the line had come naturally and exited stage left but deep down he knew that wasn’t the case.

The Wexford Garda claims he let the bubble burst any hopes he had of performing.

The Paschal Collins-trained fighter says the enclosed environment got to him and proved harder than the fight with one of the heavyweight’s newest characters.

As a result the real Niall Kennedy wasn’t represented in October.

“It’s not the answer I’d have ever wanted to give but I left 90% of me in the bubble,” the excuse-hater adds.

“I struggled on my own over there, just Packie and me. The five days stuck in the hotel with no company was far harder than the fight.

“It’s a shame but I can’t change it now. I’ve learnt a lot from it. The performance was well off what we had trained to do and Alen Babic did what we thought he would. Unfortunately, I didn’t turn up.”

Kennedy returns to the ring and attempts to put that defeat behind him when he takes on Ferenc Zsalek [21(7)-76(30)-7] in Belgium on Saturday.

Without the ability to sell tickets, the Murphy’s Boxing big man, who has a strong Wexford and Boston following, is relying on sponsors to help him out.

And for affording him the chance to show young MJ he isn’t a quitter his is very grateful.

“As you’re probably well aware, this fight is costing a fortune, so I have to thank all my sponsors. Thank you to Joe Devito Fun Palace Casino, Whizzy Internet, Boland’s Furniture Gorey, The Dinky Diner Courtown, Bodibro, and Murphy’s Boxing.”

“They are taking a lot of the burden of the cost, thank God.”

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