Niall O’Connor wants a nice KO ahead of step-up


Niall O’Connor [2(1)-0] fights for the third time tomorrow night as he looks to close the book on chapter one of his pro boxing story.

The exciting Ballybrack lightweight is in action in what he hopes will be his final four-rounder on the ‘Celtic Clash 5’ card at Good Counsel GAA in Drimnagh.

Stephen McAfee and Colin O’Donovan go to war for the BUI Celtic super featherweight title in the main event while O’Connor is in action in an undercard bout versus Poland’s Marcin Ficner [2(0)-20(9)-4].

In terms of progression, it’s in and around the same level rather than a step up, but the Dublin entertainer sees it as an opportunity for a bit of a statement.

“I want a nice clean finish,” he told Irish-Boxing.com, predicting a stoppage.

“I don’t feel I waste much. He doesn’t like it to the body, I’ve seen him dropped a few times to the body.”

“Hopefully I get a nice bodyshot, because everybody loves a nice bodyshot.”

“McAfee took him out in three, [Martin] Quinn took him out in two, if I took him out in one it would be a bit of a statement, but I think I’m better than the two lads.”

“I could break him to the body in the first round. I want to go out and just perform, do everything right, and it’ll be grand.”

That is not to say though that O.’Connor is overlooking his upcoming foe.

“I can’t risk it,” he said. “I’m going to go out and treat it like any other fight.”

“I’m mentally prepared and I know what I have to do, and I’ll do it professionally.”

O’Connor, who is trained and managed by Tony Davitt, has been preparing in Corduff at Paschal Collins’s Celtic Warriors Gym where he has had plenty of sparring with the formerly world-rated Stephen Ormond.

“He’s an absolute gentleman,” he said of ‘The Rock’.

“I’m learning so much. He wouldn’t be one to take advantage. It’s not a soft spar but he won’t take liberties. He’s brilliant.”

“That gym is flying, the Celtic Warriors, I just love being out there. There’s real camaraderie, everyone gets on – and you have to to get on out there, that’s Paschal’s attitude, no egos.”

“You actually look forward to going, there’s some real characters like Spike O’Sullivan, it’s enjoyable.”

As a keen fan himself, O’Connor is acutely aware of the need to entertain in the pro business. While this has translated into showboating in his early bouts – with the purpose being to make negative journeyman opponents open up – the Dubliner is anxious to get to a level where he can show off his true style.

He outlined how “I’m a counter puncher but I’m not boring, I’ll stand in front of you, trying to pop, pop, and when they throw I’ll catch them.”

“I just love people throwing at me. I’m practicing in the gym, sitting on the ropes with a tight guard, moving side to side, and when the throw I slip it and come back with two or three shots.”

“I was sluggish for my last fight so I didn’t feel great but when I box, when I’m on my game, I’m fun to watch. When people pay €40, they’re paying to see a good fight.”

With former amateur clubmate McAfee headlining the show versus another pro novice in O’Donovan, and welterweights John Joyce and Keane McMahon both being talked up as potential BUI Celtic title challengers this year, O’Connor wants a piece of some early-career high-profile action.

The 22-year-old outlined how “I’d like a six rounder in my next fight, I’d love one and I expect a six rounder.

“I’m doing the weight easy, if I did the water-loading all the other lads do, I could make super featherweight.”

“I don’t want to take things too slow. A Super Series would be good, I’m not sure about a Last Man Standing, because of the format”

“I wouldn’t have a problem going away for a 50-50 fight, no, I’d be well up for that.”

Photo Credit: Ricardo Guglielminotti – The Fighting Irish (@ThefIrish)

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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