Niall Kennedy focused on beating Olympian not bettering Andy Ruiz and Co.

Devin Vargas [20(8)-5(5)] has been in the ring with the reigning WBO, WBA and IBF heavyweight champion of the world Andy Ruiz as recent as last year, he’s an Olympian, a former great American hope and has shared the ring with world titles challengers Dominic Breazeale, Kevin Johnson and Andrzej Wawrzyk.

He is an ideal opponent in terms of getting Gorey heavyweight Niall Kennedy’s name out there.

The American offers the skillful Wexford big man named recognition and the chance to make favourable comparisons to the most decorated heavyweight on the planet at present, as well as fighters that only fell at the final world title hurdle.

However, in true ‘Boom Boom’ fashion, he is focused solely on the job at hand. Kennedy, who trades leather with Vargas at the MGM Springfield this Saturday night, is more concerned with doing a number on the Ohio native than what Vargas can do for his career.

A distant cousin of JFK, Kennedy [13(8)-0-1] has an ‘ask not what your opponent can do for you but what you can do to your opponent’ mantra.

“It’s obviously an opportunity to make comparisons [with some big names] but that is for people on the outside to do. My concentration is on my performance that’s all I can focus on. Devin Vargas is my sole focus,” the straight up Kennedy told Irish-boxing.com.

“Every fight now has to lead to a bigger one and my reward [for victory] is moving forward and up the rankings,” he adds keeping it simple.

The much liked Garda has impressed since turning over and has over taken former amateur rivals to become Ireland’s leading heavyweight over the last two years.

His link up with Murphys Boxing has enabled him to further build Stateside having picked up the Massachusetts and New England titles – and offers of bigger fights have started to come his way.

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One from Joe Joyce, which was turned down and another from young heavyweight prospect Darmani Rock was accepted only for the American to pull out.

Being talked about by such fighters is good news for the 34-year-old as his respectful out of the ring manner isn’t conducive with talking your way into fights.

He is getting noticed and he believes beating whoever Murphy’s put in front of him is the way to raise his profile to the extent it will help him secure passage to the heavyweight promised land.

“I believe my hard work and dedication can push me to the top tier and I’ve put no time frame on it, but if I become irrelevant I wont be sticking around in meaningless fights.”

Saturday is anything but a meaningless fight. Indeed, Kennedy is aware it’s the toughest of his career.

“Technically he is the highest level I have faced. He was a stand out amateur and has mixed at elite pro level too, so it’s a needed step up,” he adds before claiming he worked on general improvements rather than anything specific for his UFC Fight Pass broadcast clash.

“We didn’t work on any specifics, but we got fantastic sparring and tweaked things. Packie [Collins] wanted a lot of things fixed and improved!”

Saturday represents Kennedy’s twelfth fight on the East Coast and the Boston people have taken to him. The ability to sell tickets in the area can only help when big shows come to town and that popularity could prove key in Kennedy getting a massive breakthrough fight.

“I have had fantastic support in Boston and I’m hopeful I can make that grow. I get loads of positive feed back whenever my fight with Santos is replayed on Brooklyn Boxing, so this is obviously a massive platform.”

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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: [email protected]