O’Connor looking to make big step forward

by Gazette Reporter

Following three wins, with each performance more impressive than the last, Niall O’Connor is now set for a step-up and a big test.

The Ballybrack lightweight scored a show-stealing second-round stoppage last time out on the Celtic Clash 5 undercard in March and will now return on Saturday, June 16 at Good Counsel GAA Club in Drimnagh on the Celtic Clash 6 show in his first time fighting over six rounds.

Reflecting on his last performance, in which he dropped Poland’s Marcin Ficner inside the first five seconds, O’Connor described how “it was a one-two, boom, and he just started wobbling.

“Every time he threw a jab, his head was right up in the air. Tony [Davitt, manager and coach] and Barry [O’Meara, coach] kept telling me to wait for his jab, and every time he threw one I landed a right over the top.

“It was just one-two-hook, one-two-hook, and you could see that he was wincing. I knew whenever I landed on him, he didn’t want to know.”

With the greatest of respect to Ficner, O’Connor has been desperate for a step up and looks set to get one on June 16.

The 22-year-old said that “that was the end of the four-rounders, I’m not learning anything from them. I want to go six rounds, eight rounds, ten rounds. Tony looks after all that and I can’t say much but I’m hopeful that we will have a strong opponent next. We have a guy in mind with a good record, on an unbeaten streak, and who has caused a couple of upsets before.”

An extremely hungry and hard-working fighter, O’Connor is ever-present in Paschal Collins’s Celtic Warriors Gym in Corduff alongside some of the countries top fighters. Here he gets some invaluable sparring with the likes of European gold medallist Ray Moylette and Clondalkin’s Stephen Ormond who is Ireland’s #1 lightweight.

While the technical side of things is flying, O’Connor has also ramped up his strength substantially since debuting last year.

The heavy-puncher is feeling the benefits of this in the ring and described how “I only really started doing strength training after my debut and the difference has been phenomenal. I’m doing three or four sessions a week in Primal X Fitness in Sallynoggin, Adam Hennessy and the boys are great. It’s not that I’m punching harder or feeling stronger, more so my conditioning is through the roof, I’m as strong in the fifth round as I am in the first and people are noticing it in sparring.”

Tickets for the fight night are priced at €55 (ringside), €35 (unreserved) and are available from the boxers involved. Niall O’Connor can be contacted at 085 232 8914.

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