By Joe O’Neill
Stephen Ormond -v- Terry Flanagan PREVIEW
This Saturday, Stephen Ormond looks to take his penultimate step towards a world title. Wolverhampton will be the venue as he fights to defend his WBO European title in a match-up which will double as a world title eliminator for a shot at the organisation’s soon-to-be vacant lightweight belt. Standing in Ormond’s way is unbeaten Englishman, Terry Flanagan. With the bout fast approaching, irish-boxing.com
The Clondalkin man’s seven year long professional career has, at times, been dispiriting. Ormond [17(8)-1(0)] had found it hard to come across fights and has only fought professionally in Ireland five times. Instead, Ormond has had to become accustomed to fighting the length and breadth of Britain, often in opponents’ backyards. Then, in March 2012, ‘The Rock’ suffered a loss to Paul Appleby through a highly dubious decision. Undettered, Ormond put this ‘loss’ behind him to win the WBO European title (knocking out Adam Mate in the first round) before a highly impressive defence against Derry Matthews, in his home city of Liverpool. In addition to holding the WBO European belt, Ormond is now ranked #5 by the organisation and a win on Saturday will provide him with the opportunity of a lifetime.
2014 was a frustrating year for the Dubliner who was limited to just one fight. This was in April where he scored an impressive 5th round knock-out of Karim El Ouazghari. The fight with Flanagan had originally been scheduled for December 12th but Ormond had to withdraw due to illness and ‘The Rock’ will be itching to take out any lingering frustrations this Saturday.
Ormond is a real throwback fighter. Exciting to watch, he often references the ‘American Style’ of boxing he developed while in the U.S. early in his career and honed later by trainer Paschal Collins. Renowned for his engine, Ormond loves to get on the inside and pin his man to the ropes where he can unload on the body. In addition to this busy style, the fight with El Ouazghari also demonstrated the increased power he has developed in the Celtic Warrior Gym. It’s unfortunate that one of Ireland’s most exhilarating boxers is not more well known by the general public, although this has the potential to change with a win on Valentine’s night.
The Mancunian is said to be one of the most avoided fighters in British boxing. Flanagan [26(10)-0] burst onto the scene in 2012 by winning Prizefighter Lightweights. In 2014, the 25 year old fought four times. Three of these were against journeymen in addition to an impressive 7th round stoppage (on cuts), in July, over Martin Gethin for the British title. Ranked #9 by the WBO, he will be looking to elevate himself to world level with a win on Saturday.
At 5 foot 9.5 inches, Flanagan is much taller than Ormond and will hope to keep the fight on the outside. Although, in his fight with Matthews, the Dubliner showed himself to be well-equipped to negate an opponent’s height advantage with his slippery, smothering style. Going into the fight Flanagan seems supremely confident saying “I believe that I’m the bigger, stronger, better and more skilful fighter and it will show on the night.”
Southpaw Flanagan is a self-proclaimed awkward boxer to fight, and this is probably why he has been so avoided to date. Ormond, however, has no qualms about his opponents lefty style saying that “I actually enjoy fighting southpaws. A lot people say they are tricky and they can be awkward, but I actually enjoy fighting them. You can make angles with them and land shots.” To prepare for Flanagan’s rangey, awkward style, Paschal Collins has flown in WBO European light welterweight champion, Jack Catterall, for sparring in the hope of replicating the Mancunian.
Unlike former three-time national elite champion Ormond, Flanagan has little notable amateur experience. Instead he turned pro young and, profiting from his awkward style and high work rate, has carved out a promising career for himself. However, question marks remain around his stamina despite his nickname. ‘Turbo’ Terry has gone 10 rounds just two times (compared to Ormond’s four). In Flanagan’s British title win it could be seen that opponent Gethin’s gameplan was to drag the youngster into deep water once the fight got into the later rounds. Ormond will be hoping to do this more successfully.
What could be next?
As mentioned above, the fight will double as a WBO world title eliminator. The organisation’s current 135lb champion is American Terence Crawford [25(17)-0], who is commonly viewed as the best in the division. However, Crawford has stated his intention of vacating the title and moving to light welterweight. The winner ofSaturday’s fight will face WBO #1 rated contender, and former world champion, ‘Baby Bull’ Juan Diaz [40(19)-4(1)] in April. In case any extra motivation would be needed, this fight will take place in the boxing capital of the world, Las Vegas. Ormond turns 32 in April and holds an “each fight could be my last” mantra. He knows it’s now or never for his world title ambitions.
At odds of 1/2, Flanagan is the bookies favourite going into the fight. Ormond can be had at 13/8, however he is no stranger to being viewed as the underdog. In his 2012 fight with Matthews (who is now challenging for the WBA version of the title in March) he made a mockery of his wide pre-fight odds by winning comprehensively.
With Ormond’s lack of activity in 2014, ring rust could be a factor, although reports from training say that the 31 year old is in the best shape of his career. While Flanagan will try to keep the fight at range, and he indeed may win the first few rounds through this. However, he has never demonstrated serious power to keep the come-forward Ormond at bay. This gives ‘The Rock’ the potential to force the fight on the inside, especially if Flanagan tires as the fight progresses. The Dubliner will hope to impose his will on the young Mancunian and pull away in the later rounds to win a world title shot.
Dublin has not had a big-time boxing attraction since the days of Bernard Dunne. While Ormond has only fought in the fair city thrice, a win on Saturday will see him take a big step to becoming the capital’s next star.
Ormond-Flanagan can be seen on Boxnation this Saturday with coverage starting at 7pm.