Owen O’Neill ready to fill Barnes, Burnett, and Frampton’s shoes – Operator ready to become North Belfast’s leading light

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Owen O’Neill is ready to become the man North Belfast gets behind.

Watch any O’Neill fight and you realize he certainly isn’t stuck for support. In fact, he is probably the best supported small hall fighter on the Island.

However, he wants to take it to another level.

The now Dee Walsh and Daniel Anderson-trained fighter believes he will be the only North Belfast boxer left regularly fighting in the city and hopes to give the area something to shout about.

The northside of the boxing mad city still has a great to shout for in Carl Frampton, but has seen massive names and big achievers like Paddy Barnes and Ryan Burnett hang the gloves up recently.

O’Neill isn’t comparing himself to the supreme talents of the aforementioned, but believes he can give the area another fighter to be proud of and to support in large numbers.

“For me that is a big thing,” he told Irish-boxing.com.

“Ryan Burnett has retired, so has Paddy Barnes, then Carl Frampton is always fighting in America and is probably coming close to retirement too.”

“Sometimes I still have to go to myself ‘I can’t believe I’m living my dream of being a professional boxer’. It’s unreal even though everday is hard as hell, but I love it. I’m the only boxer from North of Ireland fighting on the Celtic Clash card on Saturday night too.”

He may be the only fighter from Belfast on the card, but he still may be the most supported fight on the night.

O’Neill hits that period of limbo between the early excitement and securing a fight to excite a following. During that time ticket sales generally drop, but that doesn’t seem to be the case for the Cliftonville ultra.

“I’m bringing another big crowd. My family, my mates and the Cliftonville boys. North Belfast is taking over the Devenish again.”

The football link is a help for the popular character, but so does the fact he has always been in exciting fights.

O’Neill has found himself in against game opponents and his willingness to trade may test the heart of his corner, but gets the hearts of the crowd beating in excitement.

He believes his opponent this Saturday may ask some questions and could be difficult to handle, but he is determined to stick to the game plan and ensure he progresses to six round action.

“This one seems to be another awkward one to be honest. Watched a couple of clips and looks very like the guy I fought in my second fight. I’ll get in and do what Dee tells me and come out with the win,” he continues before stressing Saturday could prove a goodbye to four round action.

“This is my last four rounder, so it’s get in and get the win then move on to a 6 . After that we can see what happens [in terms of titles]. I am still in no rush, every day I am learning.”

Photo Credit: Ricardo Guglielminotti (The Fighting Irish)


Jonny Stapleton

Irish-boxing.com contributor for 15 years and editor for the past decade. Have been covering boxing for over 16 years and writing about sport for a living for 19 years. Former Assistant Sports editor for the Gazette News Paper Group and former Tallaght Voice Sports Editor. Have had work published in publications around the world when working as a freelance journalist. Also co-founder of Junior Sports Media and Leinster Rugby PRO of the Year winner. email: editoririshboxing@gmail.com