Cork light middle O’Sullivan would break down Khiary Gray in a gruelling slugfest while Wexford heavy Kennedy eased past Matt Marrone.
The 34-year-old pair were in action on the annual Murphys Boxing ‘St Patrick’s Clash’ card at the House of Blues and claimed stoppage wins.
It was the second fight of O’Sullivan’s comeback following his WBA middleweight world title final eliminator loss to David Lemieux last September
Having pledged to move down to light middleweight following the first-round stoppage defeat to the physcially massive Canadian, O’Sullivan registered under the 154lbs limit for the first time in over ten years.
Gray’s record was chequered but he came to the ring with a lot of local backing and talk that, for once, he was firing on all cylinders.
The local dangerman started fast, lashing in shots and showing good handspeed. Little landed clean, however, with O’Sullivan shelled up as he seemingly looked to feel out his opponent before thudding in some big shots in the final 30.
Sufficiently warmed up, O’Sullivan started more aggressively in the second and the pair would trade. Gray then elected to use his mobility and hit home some nice bodywork but Spike was able to walk him down, doing damage with his own body shots before a clash of heads opened a nasty cut over the left eye of the American.
Obviously bothered by the gash, Gray would ship punishment as O’Sullivan pushed to the bell. Fighting furiously at the start of the third, Gray attempted to hold the Mahon man off but O’Sullivan quickly reopened the hastily repeared cut and had his opponent looking bothered. A huge bodyshot keeled Gray over but he would spring up and trade massive backhands with O’Sullivan – the Leesider’s looking the more powerful but seeing his own mouthpiece dislodged and disrupting the flow as a pause was called.
The Worcester native did better in the fourth stanza, initially, but was being affected by every overhand right before a late charge from O’Sullivan saw him hurt Gray badly with uppercuts to the body.
Tail up, O’Sullivan attacked from the off in the fifth, viciously lashing in shots and beating the remaining fight out of Gray. Stabbing jabs and flashy overhands made a mess of the Massachussetts man’s face before a low blow from O’Sullivan forced another pause. After the break Gray would put on his last stand and saw out the round.
Moving into the second half of the fight, O’Sullivan took centre ring as Gray required a lengthy, much to coach Packie Collins’s displeasure, doctor’s inspection. Fighting in Boston for a tenth time, O’Sullivan gee’d up the crowd as we awaited the resumption of action and his methodical destruction eventually continued. Bleeding profusely from cuts above both eyes, Gray was eventually stopped for his own protection by the referee after two minutes of the session.
Gray was distraught at the decision but, while the timing was odd, the fight did need to be stopped.
Improving to 30(21)-3(2) and looking very impressive at light middle, O’Sullivan will now turn his attention to the winner of the WBO title fight between champion and Golden Boy stablemate Jaime Munguia and challenger and countryman Dennis Hogan on Saturday April 13th.
The Irishman will fly out to Monterrey, Mexico for the fight next month and is hopeful of securing a bout with the winner.
Earlier on in the night, Kennedy scored a facile first round knockout.
The Wexford heavyweight had hoped to face top U.S. prospect Darmani Rock, agreeing to the fight, only for the clash to fall through on his opponent’s side.
Kennedy instead faced former cruiserweight title challenger Michael Marrone in a scheduled eight rounder.
The Florida native is a long way away from the man that challenged Guillermo Jones back in 2011 and, coming into the bout off the back of four straight first-round defeats, he was again put away inside three minutes.
Marrone would actually start brightly, launching into and landing on Kennedy but the Gorey Garda quickly assumed control, dropping the Miami man and applying pressure that led to the towel being thrown in.
Improving to 13(8)-0-1, Kennedy was, understandably, not overjoyed with how things have played out but the 34-year-old remained upbeat and called for a big fight in the summer afterwards.
Immediately before Kennedy’s quick win, Noely Murphy dominated a brave John Joyce in an all-Irish welterweight clash – FIGHT REPORT HERE.