Promoters eyeing Niall Kennedy following stunning Santos win


Niall Kennedy has climbed to dizzying heights in the heavyweight world – and he hasn’t even had ten fights yet.

The Wexford big man is a man in demand following a sensational 2017.

Following an impressive stoppage win of Jesse Barboza in March, Kennedy followed that up this month with a sensational upset win against New England champion Alexis Santos.

Such a win has attracted interest from big promoters.

Kennedy [9(5)-0] is an unsigned fighter. Managed and trained by Paschal Collins out of the Celtic Warriors Gym, he has fought under the Murphys Boxing banner recently, but this remains an informal agreement.

A fiercely loyal fighter, Kennedy would like to remain with the outfit led by Dropkick Murphys lead singer Ken Casey.

The Yellow Belly told Irish-Boxing.com that “there’s been a good bit of interest since the fight, so maybe something will come from it.”

“To be honest with you though, I’d rather stay boxing for Murphys. They’ve been brilliant to me and that’s why I’d rather stay with them.”

“It has to be all sorted now, and I’m sure it will be, they’ve invested a lot in me already”

While, long-term, the U.S. East Coast looks to be where Kennedy will ply his trade, the Gorey Garda wouldn’t mind a brief homecoming.

Having won two reputable belts since his last Irish appearance, ‘Kennedy Fever’ has not been as high in Wexford since his distant cousin JFK visited in 1963.

A fight on the ‘Celtic Clash 4’ bill in December could suit all involved, and Niall noted how “there’s a massive interest at home at the minute, so I’d say selling tickets would be easier now.”

“I’ve only boxed twice this year, so I’d like to get my tenth fight out of the way before Christmas.”

The win over Santos has seen Kennedy vault to #65 in the world with popular rankings website BoxRec – and all 64 fighters ahead of him have had more than nine fights.

With this in mind, Kennedy is keen to build before jumping again.

The 33 year old explained that “Packie wanted to turn it [the Santos fight] down because it was such a bad offer, but we just took a chance and it’s worked out.”

“We’re going to switch it around. I think now the plan is to build me as ‘the’ fighter.”

“Packie’s thinking about stepping it back a bit rather than jumping into big fights every fight.”

Event promoter Lou DiBella congratulated Kennedy afterwards – which made a mockery of a subsequent press release from his outfit that described the verdict as being ‘controversial.’

Was this the start of a narrative being formed? Could a rematch be possible? Kennedy doesn’t think so.

“He [Santos] has said something about a rematch, but I doubt it. It wouldn’t make sense for me really. The only thing was that it was a good fight, so if people want it… I don’t know.”

“I don’t think I’d ever lose to that fella, I think if I boxed him again it would be a different show, it would be easier. Not that I suffered with nerves, just he was such a big favourite and the unknown aspect of it.”

Kennedy is certainly feeling more confident than ever before. Indeed, rather than the ‘give it a lash’ attitude that he started his career with, Kennedy now wants to see just how far he can go. Curiosity has changed to ambition.

‘Boom Boom Baz’ described how “Packie keeps pushing me harder. We have training partners in the gym and I train with Stephen Ormond, I’m doing everything at a lightweight.”

“I’ve said this a couple of times and I probably sound stupid, but things have been going that well in training that I don’t know how good I can be, I really don’t.”

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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