At the start of the month the Athlone fighter looked sluggish as she slipped to a surprise defeat in the Monkstown Box Cup.
It emerged afterwards that O’Neill was severely weight-drained after making the 64kg weight limit for what will be the final time.
A stint in hospital followed and, following her release, the Irish Army Recruit was back in the ring at welterweight and looking like her relentless self as she dominated Seanin Flynn on the St Catherine’s Boxing Club Charity Show in aid of Crumlin Hospital.
“I’m absolutely delighted with the performance,” a beaming O’Neill told Irish-Boxing.com afterwards.
“It was nice to get the rounds in and feel the strength.”
“Tonight I was moving about and hitting hard, there were times there when I thought I’d be stopping her, fair play to her she came to fight.”
“I felt grand, I still have a bit more strength and conditioning work to go before I fill out into the weight.”
It was a stark contrast to the sapped ‘Chaz’ who got in the ring at 64kg just three weekends beforehand and the move certainly makes sense – although O’Neill needed a weight-making lightbulb moment.
Reflecting on her final, excruciating trip down to light welterweight, O’Neill reflected how “I love training, anyone who knows me knows I love training but I just had to be realistic.”
“I’m 21 now, I’m not 13 anymore. I was taking fights at a weight because I had made it for the last eight or nine years, it wasn’t healthy.”
“I’d been making it since I was 13 and I just though ‘I can do it one more time’ but it was with dehydration and starvation, I went three days without food.”
“I got into the ring and I was super fit but I had no energy so it counted for nothing.”
“I ended up very sick and in hospital but here I am boxing three weeks later and feeling great,” added the European Youth silver medallist.
Of course, such is the unequal distribution of weight classes in terms of the Olympic Games, a move to welterweight makes perfect sense to O’Neill.
64kg is not a contested weight at the Olympics but, as of Tokyo 2020, 69kg will be.
While in 2012 and 2016, there was an unbridgeable gap between 60kg and 75kg, the addition of welterweight will cause some big shifts in women’s boxing.
This could be seen at the Irish Seniors in February – which O’Neill missed through injury.
The 64kg title was won on a walkover by Joanne Lambe with other fighters that had competed at the weight previously moving up or down to the Olympic classes.
“64kg is going to be blank,” notes O’Neill who fights with an aggressive, entertaining style. “Everyone will be at 60kg or 69kg.”
“Height-wise, I’m not too tall but I like to think that I have good feet and I’ll get in and out of trouble.”
The Tokyo hopeful has her eye on September and the second Women’s Elite Championships of the year where she will be looking to claim top prize and a spot on the plane for the World Championships in India.
Aiming to stay busy, O’Neill outlined how “I hope to pick up a few little fights to keep sharp and in August there’s an international sparring camp in Edenderry with Liam Brereton.”
“I was at it the last two years and it’s absolutely super. Last year in one week I did nearly 70 rounds and we ended up boxing India at the end of it, it’s a great experience.”
“If I keep training and everything goes to plan I’ll be hard to beat in September.”
Welterweight promises to be hotly contested this Autumn with reigning champion Grainne Walsh really having made the spot her own over the past two years.
However, there are whispers European middleweight bronze medallist Christina Desmond could be making a move down in weight while Youth Olympic silver medallist Ciara Ginty will be another half a year stronger and better.
O’Neill holds no fear and confidently states that “I know who’s there, I’ve been in the ring with who’s there and I’ll be very confident going in there.”