EAMONN O’Kane is bringing big time boxing to the small, rural Co. Derry parish of Lavey on May 2nd next, it’s been confirmed.
The Banagher man is edging ever closer to a world title shot with the fight potentially being an official IBF world middleweight title eliminator!
As there are no venues suitable to host a professional boxing match in the city of Derry, O’Kane’s promoters have secured Erin’s Own Lavey GAC, near Maghera, to host the event which will cater for 2,000 fight fans.
The £2.4 million Lavey GAC and the Termoneeny Community Association Centre opened the doors to their state-of-the-art sports facility back in 2010 which includes an indoor sports arena with a 3G surface where the fight will be hosted.
In September, 2012 Erin’s Own Lavey were awarded the ‘Derry Club Grounds of the Year’ award by an Ulster GAA inspection panel.
The venue has since been approved by the British Boxing Board of Control and a specialist doctor has already been to the venue to assess its suitability.
For O’Kane it’s a fantastic opportunity to fight in front of home support at a facility which is in close proximity to his home village of Banagher as he continues to hone in on a world title shot.
And the IBF’s world No.8 ranked middleweight claims it will be an opportunity he simply can’t afford to miss.
While an opponent has yet to be identified, the IBF have requested he fight a top ranked boxer and it’s expected that the fight will be for the IBF Inter-Continental strap. Whoever it is, however, O’Kane insists they will certainly be intimidated by a hostile support.
“It will be intimidating for whoever my opponent will be,” he promised. “It’s great. It’s okay fighting away from home in big shows but not everybody can afford to travel across the water and get accommodation and get tickets, so it’ll be great that it’s on the doorstep of the people of Derry.
“It would have been great to fight in Derry city but because of the distance and time limit to the nearest Radiology and MRI Department at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast, it wasn’t possible,” explained O’Kane.
“But Lavey fits the bill. It fits all the requirements and it’s a fantastic venue.
“I’ve been to Lavey GAC before when I did their 10k run and it’s a class set-up. It’s got all the facilities and it’s a great big area. I think it can hold over 2,000 people.
“I don’t know who I’ll be fighting just yet but I don’t really focus on my opponent until about six weeks before the fight anyway and then I get sparring partners to suit.
If I win on May 2nd I will be right in the mix for the IBF title. I could even be made the mandatory challenger. These are exciting times and there is everything to fight for.Eamonn O’Kane
“I just have to get myself in the best condition as possible. I don’t care who they put in the ring in front of me.
“If it’s an eliminator for a world title, officially or unofficially, then I will dot the ‘i’s’ and cross the ‘t’s’ as far as hard work and preparation goes. I’m really looking forward to it.”
The 32-year-old reigning IBF Inter-Continetal and Irish champion stopped Ferenc Hafner in the fourth round in his last outing in Swindon in February, the first fight with new trainer, Paddy Fitzpatrick in his corner, and he feels the IBF world title is now within reach.
That was the fifth stoppage of his 15 pro. fights and he believes he’s become the hardest punching middleweight on the planet.
“My last fight was the first fight with Paddy (Fitzpatrick) against a dangerous opponent. I was actually, believe it or not, trying to box. But he came like a whirlwind and the ring is only so big. You have to be dominant within the round so it came to the point I had to trade leather with him.
“I knew that, as far as conditioning and strength-wise, I’m the strongest middleweight in the world. I’m confident about that. My technique has been completely wrong up until now.
“In the first round he was down with a left hook and unfortunately I hurt my hand. I timed it perfectly and my technique was very good.
“It was good to be hurting him and doing damage.
“I’m knocking on the door of a world title shot now. I think I’ll be fighting or the IBF Inter-Continental against a ranked opponent on May 2nd.
“I’m not sure if it’s going to be a mandatory shot or a shot directly at the title. That’s exactly what I came into boxing for, to fight for titles and it’s great to do that at home.”
Floyd Mayweather takes on Manny Pacquiao on May 2nd in one of the ‘fights of the century’ so O’Kane is hoping his fight can act as a suitable warm-up for fight fans waiting on that mouthwatering showdown.
“It’s the fight of the century, probably the biggest fight ever. So definitely it could be a great night of boxing.
If I do well I can be pushing for bigger and better titles. This is what I turned pro. for and it’s just a matter of time now. It could be two fights away - that’s how close we are.
“If I win on May 2nd I will be right in the mix for the IBF title,” he added. “I could even be made the mandatory challenger. These are exciting times and there is everything to fight for.”
For tickets for the fight contact: 07803959353 or 07843633950.