Positive Cheyanne O’Neill assures she still has ‘big future in this sport’

There weren’t really too many negatives to eliminate but Cheyanne O’Neill [0-0-1] was still keen to accentuate the positives after her pro debut last weekend.

The made for the pro welter had to share the spoils with her debut opponent but didn’t let that spoil what was a big night for her – and she assures fans that the fact she didn’t have her hand raised doesn’t mean she won’t raise hell at a high level further down the line.

O’Neill made her pro bow in Glasgow on a Kynoch-Probellum bill and was held to a draw, not a bad result considering she hadn’t felt competitive canvas under her feet for nigh on five years, fought over six for the first time ever, and was in against Lithuanian Vaida Masiokaite [2(1)-16(1)-5], a fighter with a degree in frustrating opponents.

At the same time, it wasn’t the statement start many had predicted or her team had hoped for. For those not in the know and non-fluent in boxrec, the Athlone native couldn’t defeat a journeywoman who only has two wins on her slate.

However, a deeper look into the Baltic boxer’s record shows she has been extremely busy on the British circuit, taking rounds off Ebonie Jones and Natasha Jonas last year. More recently she was whitewashed by top prospect Caroline Dubois but gave another debutant in Kirsty Hill a real scare last month when she came out the wrong side of a 58-57 scorecard

To fight such an opponent on your debut last minute was always going to be tough, ‘Chaz’ is aware of that, and while she is disappointed not to get the win, she remains upbeat.

“Of course everyone wants their debut to be nothing less then a W, but there are also many people who don’t fight opponents with experience for the first few fights, so for me to get in the ring after 4-5 years inactivity with a lot of opponent changes and a weight change last minute, I am happy to have learned from a draw,” she explains to Irish-boxing.com.

“I feel my performance wasn’t as good as I had hoped for it to be. I did feel the years out of the ring and I did feel the inexperience as a pro. I had some amateur habits but I did some really good stuff to. It’s a massive learning curve for me, that’s what is important for me. I want to build my career and my profile, we can only grow from here.”

It’s not just a ‘we don’t lose we learn’ soundbyte from the soldier, O’Neill really did relish the debut experience, and not securing the win wasn’t ever going to force her to change the mission statement.

“I absolutely loved the experience,” she assures.

“I got shivers during my ring entrance. The atmosphere was unbelievable, something I’ve never felt before. The support from my team, from my family and friends who travelled, and from all of my friends and family at home was all unbelievable. I’m still replying to messages. I appreciate every last one, it’s amazing. We have a big future in this sport the only way is up. It’s been a very proud weekend for me.”

The Elite finalist and EU Youth silver medallist was willing to go in the deep end early against unbeaten African Games medallist Nancy Moreira but had a late change of opponent.

It meant a change in weight and although Moreira has more amateur pedigree the replacement had an abundance more by way of experience.

O’Neill, 26, remains adamant she has the beating of Masiokaite and although relucant to give excuses does admit a messy fight week wasn’t condusive to peak performance.

“Every fighter who steps into the ring is tough, she took some big right hands but she had the experience to know when she was hurt and it stood to her,” she adds when discussing her opponent.

“The change in weight was the biggest thing for us in the week but it was important we got out and got my debut done so we did what we had to,” she continues before making sure to push out another positive.

“I loved the atmosphere and the experience of fight week it was all new to me, something Iv never experienced before.”

Discussing the differences between the amateur and pro experience she said: “Funnily enough the no headgear and smaller gloves didn’t phase me at all. I think for me it is the difference in atmosphere, the styles, there is no jumping in and rushing with punches. There is a huge difference in the actual boxing I felt.”

The Robbie Flynn managed prospects next move? A return to the gym where she plans to learn and develop.

“The next thing for me is to keep working with my team, my coach Will Jones on improving my skills, continue sparring and training so that I gain the experience I need as a professional. My managers are doing a great job and I have no doubt will continue to do so for the next fight. We work well together and believe in each other and that’s what’s important here. We know what’s needed going forward and I have no doubt we will continue to tick the boxes. We learn and we grow!”

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