No cash-in for Niall Kennedy – Wexford heavyweight targeting the ‘right’ big fight


Niall Kennedy is backing himself as he reaches a crossroads in his career.

The Wexford heavyweight sports a healthy 11(7)-0 record and has already some good wins to his name.

However, Kennedy is still one or two wins away from proper ‘big’ fights that grab the attention of the wider boxing public.

Big fights are available now – of the one week notice, cannon fodder to a top prospect variety – but Kennedy believes he can climb more naturally and make a real impact in the sport.

This begins on June 23rd where the 33-year-old will top a Murphys Boxing card in New Hampshire in his biggest fight to date.

“We’re hoping that it’s for the NABA title,” Kennedy tells Irish-Boxing.com, “that could open up massive fights.”

“It’s a massive chance. It will get you into the Top 15 with the WBA and, sure, one big win then and you’re into big money.”

Following one of the Irish wins of the year in September over Alexis Santos and some top sparring with unified heavyweight champ Anthony Joshua, Kennedy is feeling more confident and stronger than ever.

“Sparring with Anthony was a massive confidence boost,” he admits.

“The last fight [KO3 v Aaron Chavers in February] was the most comfortable I’ve ever been in the ring.”

“Everything just clicked on the fight night. I’m three years a pro in May, things are starting to click.”

“I was 15 weeks away [from June 23rd] and able to do ten rounds. The fitness is good.”

“That extra motivation, having him [newborn son M.J.] at home seems to make things easier.”

With a rising profile comes temptation. The ‘cash-in’ option has been presented but Kennedy is happy to take a somewhat more traditional route.

‘Boom Boom Baz’ revealed how “we’ve been offered ‘pay-days’, really good pay-days but where we’re the B-side and, unless we’re knocking the lad out, we’re not winning.”

“We did that with Santos, we took the risk with Santos because I always felt I’d win that, I’d chased that fight from my third fight.”

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“This thing of ‘big money fights’, taking 30 or 40 thousand to go over and take a loss, it makes no sense when I’m building to where I want to be”.

“What’s the point of taking 30 grand now when it could be 100 grand next year?”

“There’s no rush. I suppose I’m ‘young’ in the sense that I’ve taken very little punishment in the ring – I’ve taken baitings but I haven’t taken many baitings! Maybe it’s a bit to do with my GAA background as well.”

This all isn’t to say that Kennedy is looking to pad his record with insignificant fights.

The Gorey Garda accepted a fight with former world title challenger Artur Szpilka on the big Matchroom USA bill in New York this Saturday only for the Pole’s team to refuse, while his June 23rd fight looks to be against former UFC star Fabio Maldonado or either of a pair of unbeaten Americans.

“I think there’s fights to be made,” he notes.

Look at Povetkin, Price, Whyte, Allen, are they fights I’d take? yes.”

“Everything is in America at the minute, though. I don’t call lads out, I just don’t do it, but there’s lads like Big Baby Miller, Charles Martin, Dominic Breazeale, they’re all really good fighters who’ve boxed at a higher level than me but they’re definitely within reach.”

“If Spike or if Stephen Ormond get onto a big card, you’d be hoping that we might be able to get on the undercard – or even with Eddie [Hearn, Matchroom Promotions] coming home with Katie Taylor.”

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Joe O'Neill

Reporting on Irish boxing the past five years. Work has appeared on irish-boxing.com, Boxing News, the42.ie, and local and national media. Provide live ringside updates, occasional interviews, and special features on the future of Irish boxing. email: joneill6@tcd.ie