Craig O’Brien had his moments in a high quality NXTGEN clash tonight, but this wasn’t to be his big moment.
The Dubliner showed guts and guile over the 10 rounds, but couldn’t find a way past recent British title challenger Kieron Conway.
The Matchroom fighter came out 97-94 winner after an entertaining fight.
It was a massive chance for the 29-year-old Dub to bring his career to new heights, but he was just short of registering a career changing win.
The taller and longer Conway did look the more imposing, but O’Brien’s accuracy, timing and skills won him some rounds. The Pascal Collins trained fighter also showed guts when tiring down the stretch and made every round a competitive one.
Still it wasn’t enough for ‘The Iron’ to register York Hall win. Yet while the referee didn’t raise his hand come final bell time the performance saw his stock raise.
There was nothing much between them in the first. It was two technicians looking to work behind the jab. O’Brien did land a nice check hook when he let the back hand go, but although he didn’t land anything too clean the Matchroom fighter looked the more imposing.
‘The Iron’ upped the tempo somewhat in the second, he didn’t let the Norhampton fighter set his feet in the first half of the stanza and landed two nice right hands.
The Dubliner also landed a nice uppercut on the inside down the stretch.
The Pascal Collins trainer puncher came out more confident in the third and impressed in the first two minutes. The skill he is noted for was apparent, but there was a little more spite and aggression to his work.
However, a good right with a minute to go allowed the home fighter to finish the round strong.
‘Too Class’ tried to put in on O’Brien in the fourth, but under pressure O’Brien threw the punch of the fight off the ropes. He then had Conway backed up on the ropes in a more aggressive and close round.
Conway, whose jab was becoming more of a weapon, had the better of the fifth and looked the stronger and fresher of the two.
Just when it looked like Conway may get on top O’Brien produced a positive response in the sixth, he backed his opponent up and landed some good shots when they went tete to tete on the ropes.
However, again Conway finished the round well pushing forward as O’Brien looked for a breather.
The seventh was competitive with O’Brien showing flashes of class, but the differing body languages made Conway looked the more comfortable. The 29-year-old Dub appeared that bit more tired and there was more pop to the shots of Conway.
The eight was similar. O’Brien enjoying some quality moments – he certainly wasn’t giving up. However stepping off to take a break allowed Conway to look the boss. Their wasn’t much between the pair technically, but the 23-year-old just looked to be the more imposing with extra height, reach and momentum.
The last two saw O’Brien continue to be competitive, but the rounds looked to be shaded by the home fighter.
The result see’s O’Brien slip to 11-2-0 , but he will be bouyed by the fact he wasn’t out of his dept against a British level opponent.