EAMONN O’KANE insists he’s determined to keep fighting for his dream world title shot and feels he’s proven he belongs on the world stage.
With talk of a possible WBO middleweight title shot against Andy Lee gathering pace, O’Kane is confident he can bounce back from his IBF title eliminator loss against Tureano Johnson.
Boxing at Madison Square Garden was something I always wanted to do and it allowed me to advertise myself.Eamonn O’Kane
‘King Kane’ won over the Madison Square Garden attendance with a brave display in a brutal battle against the 31 year-old from the Bahamas and certainly proved he can operate at world level.
Despite hitting the canvas twice inside the opening round, O’Kane showed true grit and guts to take the classy Johnson the distance, losing by 118-108, 117-109, 119-107 scorecards as he dropped to 14-2-1.
O’Kane, who earned under E7,000 for his efforts, was happy to sacrifice the money for his shot at the IBF eliminator and he believes it was worth the sacrifice.
He was taken to Bellevue Hospital Center in lower Manhattan immediately after the fight in the early hours of Sunday morning where he’s spent the last two days as a precautionary measure and is expected to be released today before flying home.
Suffering from severe dehydration and ‘muscle breakdown’ due to the exertions from the fight, he’s received around 14 litres of fluids from an Intravenous drip but is well on the road to recovery and is already plotting his way back to the big time.
Commenting from his hospital bed in New York, he insisted he is prepared to get his world title shot by any means possible.
“Boxing at Madison Square Garden was something I always wanted to do and it allowed me to advertise myself,” said O’Kane.
“Although it was for a relatively low amount of money it was a sacrifice that had to be made. Hopefully I now reap the rewards I feel I definitely deserve.”
And was he prepared to fight Andy Lee should that opportunity present itself?
“I’ve boxed Andy in the past and it would be a mouthwatering fight,” he added. “I will fight whoever I need to in order to become world champion.
“It’s taken me a while to prove I’m at world level and I want to stay here and enjoy it.
“I wanted to win the fight and perform and entertain everybody. On the feedback I’m getting everyone was entertained. I definitely put myself in the shop window. My gameplan was perfect and my conditioning was perfect. Hats off to Tureano Johnson, he was a tough, tough boy. On another night, if it hadn’t of been for the first round things might have been slightly different.”
It was a devastating blow as O’Kane hit the canvas twice in the opening round after savage punches to the side of the head. O’Kane absorbed a total of 396 power-punches during the 12 gruelling rounds but his ability to bounce back and attempt to find a way through Johnson’s defence right until the final bell won the crowd over.
“I was disorientated,” he said of the first round knockdowns. “It knocked me off balance he caught me at the back of the head. I wasn’t gone in any shape or form. I came out the second round and my head was clear - there was no long term effect.
“I’d rather not have absorbed those , I would rather have gave them out. He’s a warrior and I believe I am as well. It was good to fight on a massive stage.”
While it didn’t exactly go to plan for the big hitting Co. Derry man, he made the most of his chance in the world spotlight, impressing the HBO pay-per-view audience with his hunger and battling qualities.
No one who’s followed his professional career would ever have doubted his fighting heart, but his coach, Paddy Fitzpatrick believes he’s proved his boxing ability and he’s hoping to capitalise on the performance.
“I was booking out of the hotel and one of the judges for Eamonn’s fight was booking out as well - Tom Schreck. He said; ‘Eamonn showed innate toughness and fighting character - he has some heart.’
“I said if all he showed was fighting heart I would have pulled him out of it. He showed more than fighting heart. He was still letting combinations go and had Tureano backed up against the ropes and changing his mind. I never seen Tureano Johnson take backward steps in a fight.
“Schreck gave him the 11th round and two other judges gave him the 12th round. When the general consensus is that Eamonn took the second round and the fifth and the eighth, then it’s almost an insult that the first thing they say is about his fighting heart.
“As a coach I was almost looking for an excuse to stop it because I can see how brutal it is. When I’m seeing him do what he did in the second and fifth, you can’t take that away from the man. We would never have had Jake LaMotta, Arturo Gatti, Micky Ward if you were pulling them out because it was a hard fight.
“The 10th round was a severely bad round for Eamonn and when he came back I told him if the next round was like that I’m pulling you out!
“And he went out and had an excellent 11th round. He never gave me a reason to pull him out apart from that time in the 10th. Yes it was a brutal fight and I knew we lost it. That was a hell of a performance and he has proven he deserves to be at world level.
“The big stage is somewhere he shines on. He did Ireland proud and Madison Square Garden fell in love with him.
“The fans come to see drama and excitement and Eamonn brings that. He will take off until after Christmas and relax his body. You would be surprised with the type of fights I believe present themselves now.”