Eamonn O’Kane has made sweeping changes to his training regime in recent weeks but he’s promised he won’t deviate from his trademark, explosive style when he returns to the ring tomorrow night.
SIMON COLLINS reports
The Banagher middleweight features on the undercard of Carl Frampton’s European title fight against Kiko Martinez at the Odyssey Arena, as he attempts to bounce back from his eighth round stoppage at the hands of John Ryder in a British title eliminator last December.
That defeat - the only blemish on his professional record so far - proved a major wake-up call for ‘King Kane’.
And he’s intent on getting his career back on track with an impressive win over his 26 year-old Surrey opponent, Gary Boulden at the East Belfast venue.
O’Kane has made a number changes following his defeat to Ryder, moving from his Immaculata Gym where he had been under the tutelage of trainer, Gerry ‘Nugget’ Nugent to join forces with respected Panamanian coach, Bernardo Checa who oversaw Brian Magee’s recent renaissance.
And the 2012 Irish Prizefighter champion believes his new trainer has encouraged a more mature and stylistic boxing technique to work in unison with his normal aggressive approach.
“You’re always going to see an aggressive Eamonn in the ring,” said O’Kane.
“A high workrate is what I like to bring to the table. I like to put my opponent under pressure with a high intensity performance but I hope I can now do that with more tact, more skill and better technique.
“One of the things I’ve had to look at is my defence. Checa has a saying; ‘Punches are not vitamins, don’t take them’, which I think is quite good.
“We’ve really been working on improving my defence,” added the 2010 Commonwealth gold medallist.
“It’s been very hard to get rid of certain habits and to replace them with good technique. It’s been a real learning curve for me but I’m determined to put the work in and hopefully it’ll really come across in my performance in the ring.”
And O’Kane is feeling the benefits of his extensive training camp and, in particular, his work alongside, strength and conditioning coach, Oliver Cummings who regularly works with his stablemate, Paul McCloskey.
“I’ve been training with Checa six days a week and with Ollie Cummings, my strength and conditioning coach, three times a week as well.
“Ollie’s Sports Science knowledge is phenomenal and he has me on a very good diet plan. I don’t think I’ve ever had my diet so right.
“We’ve been training to compliment my boxing and working on combining explosive power with endurance. I’m recovering quicker and I’m confident it will make me a better boxer.”
Things are clearly on the up for the Co. Derry man and while he is supremely confident he can return to winning ways, he knows he can’t be complacent against a dangerous opponent.
“I’ve been watching Gary’s fight for the English title very closely and he’s quite an awkward opponent.
“He dips his head down a lot and he has a good jab so he’s quite difficult to tag. I certainly respect him and I know I’ll have to be giving it 100 per cent.
“Boulden went 10 rounds with British champion, Billy Joe Saunders and he is a tricky customer.
“It isn’t an easy fight, but I am looking forward to getting back to winning ways. The defeat to Ryder was hard to take, but I will come back stronger.
“The new training camp has helped me and I am looking to win at the Odyssey and put on an impressive performance,” said O’Kane.