However, for those who have been keeping tabs over the past few years, the name Shauna O’Keefe is one which has been expected to eventually appear.
The Tipperary lightweight was the woman who stood up last November to become the first Irish boxer to face Katie Taylor in a National Senior Elite Championships final. O’Keefe performed admirably against the living legend and marked herself out as one to watch following the points loss.
Now with nineteen-time major medal winner Taylor gone pro, debuting in London on November 26th in November, O’Keefe has her chance.
The 22 year old was a relatively late call-up to the squad and told Irish-Boxing.com that “I was more than shocked. It was all over the place for a bit. One day Katie [Taylor] was going [pro], another day she wasn’t. so of course it was a shock – but it was by far the best shock of my life, I couldn’t be happier.”
“I have worked extremely hard this year. My goal and target is to perform and show to myself and everyone else that I can box as well as fight. It’s all about performing and getting better and better every round for me.”
O’Keefe doesn’t see any pressure or comparison in taking the lightweight berth. Indeed the Clonmel woman feels that Taylor is near unmatchable. Therefore she is just focusing on herself, and explained how “there is no pressure at all, no matter what people are saying about filling Katie’s boots. Nobody will every do that. There will never be another Katie Taylor, there will only be another Shauna O’Keeffe.”
“She has set the bar so high and I will have nothing but respect and gratitude for Katie, she is an idol and will go down in history.”
“I plan on going out focusing on myself and my boxing it’s not about making a name for myself, I just love my sport and plan to do extremely well and that’s it.”
O’Keefe hails from Clonmel, proportionately one of the biggest boxing towns on the island and she described how “for such a small town, the support is outstanding. I have everybody behind me. There is a major buzz around Clonmel”
“I’m bringing major happiness and enjoyment to the town. Local businesses are getting behind me and sponsoring me. I couldn’t be happier and the support I have in my boxing club is fantastic.”
“The boxing club does not get the gratitude or support that it deserves, but I plan on helping change that after these championships.”