Whether it’s been in the front row of a scrum, power lifting his way to 230lbs or stopping opponents in the boxing ring, Steve Collins Jr [10(4)-1(0)-1] has always proven himself as physically strong.
The flamed-haired competitor has always had a ‘beast’ element to him and the comparisons drawn with WWE’s Seamus had as much roots in physique as they had in hair colour.
However, the 27 year old’s latest move suggests he isn’t lacking in terms of mental strength either.
The driven and focused fighter has taken the brave decision to move away from the Collins dynasty.
The son of a legend has left the Celtic Warrior Gym and made a step he felt he needed to further his career. Collins will no longer be trained by his uncle Paschal and has migrated across the Liffey to Inchicore and the new surrounds of St Michael’s Boxing Club where he is working under Steven O’Rourke.
Although the fighter himself isn’t one for drama, it is a big and even bold move for Collins, who has also made promotional changes.
Not only has the former rugby player left one of the more noted Dublin gyms, but he has distanced himself somewhat from brand Collins and at time when it looks like Chris Eubank Jr and Conor Benn are benefiting from trading on the family name.
In fairness to the Castleknock prospect, who lost for the first time earlier this year, he has always be keen to be seen as his own man rather than his father’s son and that ‘walk my own path’ desire may have played a part in the move.
Speaking to Irish-Boxing.com Collins explained the move was difficult, but amicable and, most importantly, one which he feels will be beneficial.
“It was difficult because there was a family aspect to it,” admitted Collins.
“I knew things wouldn’t end that smoothly because it is family and that is probably why it didn’t happen sooner. I feel it has worked out the better for me. I am here with Steven O’Rourke we get on very well and we work well together.
“There is no bad blood, none at all. Maybe myself and Paschal won’t have the relationship we used to have, I don’t know? But there is no animosity from my end and I don’t think he has any to me. We just had to part ways.”
“I won’t get into too much. I would like to keep that between myself and Paschal. That’s our business.”
While some might see the change in coaching approach as the big news, Collins suggests it’s the managerial backing of MTK that could really prove revolutionary.
Forget work-life balance, The Wolfhound claims he hasn’t been getting the work boxing-balance right since he turned pro in 2013.
The Dubliner has been fitting boxing around making ends meet, and indeed went as far as to suggest he has been working to fund his career.
The move to MTK he feels will give him more financial freedom to focus on his ring craft and will pave the way for him to become a full-time fighter.
Collins described how “MTK spoke to me a couple of years ago about signing up with them and I wasn’t really sure what direction I wanted to take. So I told them I just wanted to focus on learning.”
“Now four years on I decided I wanted to be more professional. MTK gives me the chance to fight regularly and earn an income that allows me down the line to dedicate more time to boxing and improving.”
“By turning a bit of a profit I won’t have to work hard to try and earn and living and fit boxing around that,” he added before detailing his past mistakes.
“Previously I was struggling as a boxer I was working to fund my boxing life. The quality of the training I could do went down the drain as a result. My life was about making ends meet when it should be about boxing.”
“With MTK I get paid better for fights and I have that small bit of freedom I need to work harder and train boxing wise. The goal is to be a full-time pro and I am taking steps to that now. ”
Both changes come on the back of his Irish title defeat to Paddy McDonagh, but Collins notes how they were not really inspired by the reverse.
The 27 year old believes he forfeited any chance he had of beating the Westmeath southpaw on the scales – and considering his previous stance on all things weight issues that must be a difficult thing to admit.
The MTK fighter used to have little sympathy for those bemoaning the pound cut process, but has a whole new outlook on the importance of doing the weight right.
“I was very confident going in because I knew I had the ability to beat Paddy. The build up is what done it for me and the fact I was lacking experience in the ring. Taking nothing away from Paddy I asked for the best Paddy McDonagh and I certainly got it.”
“It hasn’t dented my confidence. I have learnt from the fight. I know now I have to prepare myself better because if you don’t then you pay the price. Weight was a massive thing ahead of that fight. I had made the weight with no problems before but I only ever made championships weight once before that.”
“I did it easy the first time and I thought it would be the same so I didn’t put too much effort into the weight aspect of things. I was 9 kilos over the weight a week out. I had heard all the boxers talking about how hard it was to make certain weights and talking about the difficulties, but to be honest I just they were being drama queens.”
“I didn’t believe it could take that much out of you and was thinking ‘shut up it’s not that bad and you have a day to recover’, but that was my ignorance through lack of experience making weight and that is what done it for me,” he continued before promising to be more diligent in future.
“I will never make that mistake again of having to drain myself out. I hadn’t anything in me to let go in the fight. I threw enough punches but there was no snap, no power or no zap. I felt weak and now I understand why people bitch and moan about weight and how important it is to do it right. You can leave it on the scales and lose a fight on the scales.”
The Wolfhound won’t have to make championship weight next time out. He fights on the Ginley Promotions show on September 16th in Belfast and is expecting a relatively routine six rounder.
However, he is adamant he wants his tenure with MTK to be littered with tough fights, learning ones at first before moving onto title clashes.
“I am out again now September 16th on MTK. I told them I want to be busy and it’s good to have a fight so soon. I told them keep me busy and in a couple of years I will be ready for bigger fighters and bigger opponents. I need to learn, I have the capability to learn, but you can’t teach experience and that is what I lack.”
“In saying that, I don’t want bums. I want good hard learning fights. I told them get me good fights. I want lads at my level so I can learn. My next fight is a six rounder so I wouldn’t imagine its a decent name, but I want a good tough opponent. I think MTK want to get me out there, blow off the cobwebs and then get me out there again.”
Photo Credit: Ricardo Guglielminotti – The Fighting Irish (@ThefIrish)