Owen O’Neill wins BUI Celtic Title (and KO of the Year) with stunning Duffy stoppage

Down on the scorecard, Owen O’Neill produced a devastating shot that any God would be proud of to win the BUI Celtic light middleweight title tonight in Belfast.

The stunning punch brought the curtain down abruptly on what had been a draining, intense and hugely entertaining bout. To his immense credit, the North Belfast man sought to calm the partisan home crowd in the immediate aftermath of the knockout, as Owen Duffy lay motionless on the canvas.

The stoppage came in the eighth and final round, and while the exchanges had been fierce, there was no indication that a stoppage was imminent until the very millisecond it arrived. As had been the case in each of the previous seven stanzas, both men were fighting for every inch, when all of a sudden O’Neill landed the brutal shot that won him the title. 

An incredible fight at Girdwood Hub, the pair of Owens produced a superb contest which was in the balance until that final hook from O’Neill that decided it.

Duffy came into the contest the favourite following his upset win in the Clash of Cavan over Dominic Donegan but the rapidly improving O’Neill, roared on by his crazy Cliftonville fans, was seen to be a very live underdog

From the very first bell, it was clear that both men were going to give it everything, as they met each other head-on.

Duffy landed a big left early on, but O’Neill was displaying an excellent work rate, coming forward and working his opponent’s body. Both landed well throughout the round, and really it was a question as to what you preferred when judging it.

The tone was set, and the intensity both men had shown in those first three minutes would be replicated throughout. 

Throughout the first six rounds, neither fighter really had any particular momentum; if one seemed to be making progress with a flurry it would generally be answered quickly by his opponent.

Duffy did hurt O’Neill in the second but ‘The Operator’ came roaring back. Neither were making any kind of break that would look decisive, meaning the entertainment value was outstanding.

‘The Butcher’ Duffy made an excellent start to the seventh and sought to build upon it as the seconds went by. He clearly dominated the round and with 40 seconds left the North Belfast man was in a little bit of trouble, but he made it to the end of the round.

Having lost that round, O’Neill could not afford to lose the last one as well in what was a razor-tight fight.

He came out and went from it from the bell, but the pattern of the early rounds seemed set to be repeated, with the action being quite even – until it wasn’t.

Trading, O’Neill landed an immense left hook, which saw his man knocked out cold, face down on the canvas with his back leg stuck out ungainly in the air.

The sight of Duffy on the canvas was a worrying one, and it said a lot about O’Neill that he didn’t celebrate following the biggest win of his career, but rather sought to calm the raucous home crowd.

The Cavan man was prone for an extended period and stretchered from the ring. Conscious and talking, Duffy was taken to the hospital as a precautionary measure and is, thankfully, in good health.

It would emerge afterwards that O’Neill was a point down on Padraig O Reachtagain’s card going into the eighth round, a scorecard that was violently ripped up by the Belfast man.

The sensational and maiden stoppage win sees O’Neill take the belt and improve to 10(1)-0 while Duffy drops to 6(3)-3(2) following his latest domestic clash.