EAMONN O’Kane believes his decision to team up with Panamanian trainer, Bernardo Checa will put him right back in contention for a British title.
SIMON COLLINS reports
The Banagher middleweight is anxious to bounce back from his first professional loss against John Ryder in his last outing when he returns to the ring in three week’s time.
O’Kane, who was coasting towards a crack at the Lonsdale belt before his defeat to Ryder, is now prepared to ‘get back to the basics’ as he sets his sights on Surrey’s Gary Boulden in a scheduled six rounder on the undercard of Carl Frampton and Kiko Martinez’s European title fight at Odyssey Arena on February 9th.
Not only has O’Kane altered his preparation but the Commonwealth gold medallist and Irish Prizefighter king has also changed trainer having joined forces with Carrickfergus based, Checa.
The New Year has certainly brought about plenty of change for the former Immaculata boxer but he joins an old friend also under Checa’s charge in Paul McCloskey.
And O’Kane is delighted to team up with his new stablemate who ended an eight year partnership with John Breen before Christmas to join up with the highly respected coach.
“It is great to be training with Paul again,” said O’Kane. “We trained for years together when we were amateurs and we travel up and down from Dungiven together, which also helps.
“Paul also came to Bernardo recently and he is looking good in the gym. There is more to come from Paul, I am sure of that,” said O’Kane.
So how has the introduction of a new trainer improved his chances of climbing up the middleweight rankings?
“We have stripped my boxing back to the bare bones and we have gone back to basics,” he revealed. “It is hard work, but it is enjoyable and hopefully we will see improvements at the Odyssey.
“It has been great to start afresh, but I will always be in debt to the guys at the Immaculata Gym. I still go there to spar with Martin Lindsay and Alfredo Meli, and I always enjoy going back there, but I just thought a fresh approach might help me,” he added.
Ulster Elite Championships
Commence on Monday
Meanwhile, the Ulster Elite Senior Championships get underway in Derry next week - the first time the competition has been staged outside Belfast.
The event, the first sporting event to be associated with Derry’s “City of Culture” celebrations, gets underway on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday in Pilot’s Row for the preliminary rounds.
The Ulster Senior Elite Finals will all be staged next Friday night in The Venue, Ebrington.
All competitors will weigh in at the Ring ABC Gym in Brooke Park on Sunday morning.
Admission prices to Pilot’s Row will be £5 (pay at door) while tickets for the Ulster Finals must be booked at the Millennium Forum Box Office with seats priced at £15 and £10.