Niall Kennedy [13(8)-1(1)] is desperate to rematch Devin Vargas [21(9)-5(5)] before the year is out.
The heavyweight was stopped by the American Olympian in what was meant to be his breakthrough clash at the MGM Springfield in August.
Now the popular 35-year-old wants a return and believes if firing on all cylinders he can defeat a fighter, that was deemed a worthy enough opponent for current heavyweight champion of the world Andy Ruiz Jr as recent as 2018.
Indeed, so keen is the Gorey man to avenge his sole career defeat, that he claims he would fight Vargas for free.
“Look no excuses it was Devon Vargas’ night. I’d love to get the rematch. I’d box him again for nothing if I could, but we will wait and see what happens,” Kennedy explained when speaking to Off The Ball’s Off The Brawl.
Post the clash one of Irish boxing’s real gentlemen ensured the victor got respect as well as the spoils.
‘Boom Boom Baz’ praised the American’s performance, gave him all the credit and refrained from trying to offer an alternative explanation as to why defeat materailised.
However, as the weeks wore on news leaked of an injury to Murphys Boxing big man.
Although he initially wasn’t willing to talk about it – presumably conscious of not wanting to appear to be an excuse maker – Kennedy had back issues in the build up to the fight.
He felt the issue had been addressed, but when he touched his toes during the introductions the pain returned and flared up.
“No excuses, I lost on the night and I won’t say any other reason for it, but I fell on a bit of bad luck the week before.
“The back just got worse from the Wednesday the week before the fight. Too cut a long story short I thought I had it sorted. Myself and Pascal had been in the sea in Boston a good bit trying to get the inflammation down. I felt good, I was doing pads good and the next thing I get in the ring and something as innocuous as bending over for the introduction to touch my toes and bang my back went into spasms straight away.”
It’s not something the heavyweight wanted out in the public domain, not because he feels it may be a long term issue, rather he feels excuses are bad boxing etiquette.
However, he is smart enough to know that the injury hampered his performance and is confident he would win a return.
“We are confident if we can get him back.. I think at 20 percent I nearly stopped him in the third round. In the fifth he wasn’t hurting me. I had my hands down and I wasn’t respecting his punches. And look there is people dying in this sport so I am not going to argue with the referee, but if your to go by the rules you can’t stop a fight with 10 seconds to go in a round and there was only four seconds left.
“He had emptied the thank so If I’d got out for the sixth round I think I would had of been comfortable enough finish to the fight,” he continues.
“I believed it was his last chance saloon so he was going to be at his best. He had a fight fixed for September so I though he would be in camp. I don’t know how serious he takes his camps anymore, but when he got in the ring he was very sharp and very illusive. In saying that I still feel I could have stopped him in the third round only I couldn’t put that bit of pressure on him. You kind of holding your breath throwing your punches because your nervous of your own bodies reaction.”
For a 35-year-old looking to progress at a fast pace such a defeat is hampering. Rather than looking to move up to a bigger challenge again the Pascal Collins trained fighter is now hoping for a rematch.
He admits delaying the fight or pulling out may have been explored, but reveals he did feel right up and until the ring announcements he was fit enough to compete.
“Hindsight is a great thing and with hindsight now maybe I should have put it on to a different card or something like that, but I trained since March for that and it was the big name that I asked for, it was what I wanted. Sparring had gone so well. I am 35 and you sorta have this feeling that if you miss these kind of opportunities they go away from you.”