Niall O’Connor wants local derby with BUI Celtic champ Stephen McAfee


Not quite a ‘call out’ but it was the closest you will get to it from the super respectful Niall O’Connor [4(3)-0].

The Ballybrack puncher claims he is ready to continue his move to super feather to fight Stephen McAfee [4(2)-0-1] for the BUI Celtic title.

The Tony Davitt managed and trained fighter is also open to fighting newly crowned BUI Celtic light welterweight title holder Victor Rabei [5(1)-0] for the lightweight equivalent of the title but believes a clash with Sallynoggin’s McAfee would capture the imagination of that part of South Dublin.

Although he didn’t realise it at first, stopping Slaveya Stefanov in the first round of a fight scheduled for six on Saturday night really strengthens O’Connor’s claims for a title shot and he now was to join the domestic party with a south Dublin derby.

“Who would people like to see me fight for a title?” he openly asked Irish-Boxing.com following the easy win.

“Stephen McAfee at super featherweight? Victor Rabei at lightweight? I am not one to go shouting out names, but if that makes me title eligible then I’d take either of those in a heartbeat.”

“Now I am not going saying I am the best in Ireland and I don’t want to be chasing the likes of Gary Cully around the ring just yet, did you see the size of him? But I’d take McAfee or Rabei,” O’Connor added before stressing McAfee, who claimed the title after two brilliant fights with Colin O’Donovan, was his preference.

“I think the fight with Stephen would be brilliant. I’d love that fight, I don’t know what he thinks about us fighting, but I’d love it.”

“It would be massive in our area, we are from around the same area and we know each other so it would be interesting,” he said of his fellow Monkstown BC graduate.

McAfee himself is keen to move on to an Irish title fight but, with a lack of eligible opponents, a defence versus O’Connor could be his best option.

O’Connor’s manager and trainer Tony Dunlop is adamant the that the energetic youngster is one of the best of the Dublin prospects, noting his natural instincts and good work ethic, but the fighter himself has had to watch on as others with a similar number of fights compete in all-Irish and BUI Celtic title fights.

As a result, there hasn’t been a massive O’Connor hype train to be boarded just yet but, on the back of a third consecutive stoppage win, the entertaining fighter claims that could change soon.

“I don’t know if I am overlooked, but maybe because I am not that active on social media or don’t shout my mouth off people don’t know me as much.”

“I just worry about what I am doing in the gym and I am focused on the learning there. I am sure I’ll get a bigger fight soon and win that and people will start talking.”

“I did good tickets and I had to ask for more. My family and friends have been brilliant and I can’t thank them enough.”

In terms of his fight at Good Counsel GAA Club at the weekend, it couldn’t have been much easier for O’Connor.

The Dubliner knocked Stefanov down with a short shot to the body and forced him down again before ending the fight with a clean right hand that left the Bulgarian semi-conscious.

A third stoppage in a row, O’Connor would have preferred to be extended and tested over six like other prospects on the bill but the outcame did not come as a surprise.

The Celtic Warriors Gym-based fighter noted how “I’d like to have done the six rounds. It would be good to have the six rounds done for when I move to eight rounds. I do it in the gym fine, but you’d like to have it in a fight.”

“I looked at his record and I fancied myself to stop him to be honest.”

“That was my third stoppage in a row and I think it just comes from time in the gym, nothing else. You can’t but learn from sparring in Paschal’s and I soak in what I can from the guys around the place. I watch Stephen Ormond on the pads and Niall Kennedy sparring and I pick up things I can add to my game.”

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

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