O’Kane putting it all on the line in London

EAMONN O'KANE

EAMONN O'KANE

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EAMONN O’Kane (right) has no problem putting his unblemished record on the line in return for a shot at British title glory when he takes on John Ryder in tomorrow night’s ‘Christmas Cracker’ at the London Olympia.

EAMONN O’Kane has no problem putting his unblemished record on the line in return for a shot at British title glory when he takes on John Ryder in tomorrow night’s ‘Christmas Cracker’ at the London Olympia.

SIMON COLLINS reports

The Banagher middleweight (8-0) jumped to the front of the queue for an opportunity to compete for the Lonsdale belt when he won the Irish Prizefighter title last May.

And he’s prepared to do whatever it takes to grab his chance for major honours in tomorrow’s Sky Sports televised British title eliminator.

“It’s going to be a tough fight for me and it is going to be a tough fight for John so it should be a great watch for the fans,” said O’Kane.

“He’s in the same sort of position as I am” he added. “He’s 12-0 and he’s looking to make that next step up to British title level and winning titles and honours so it definitely should be a good fight.

“I have seen John fight on some of the Matchroom Sport shows and I was on the same bill as him when I fought Wayne Reed in Sheffield in July. He is definitely a talent and he has my respect.

“I have been training hard for Saturday and I know how much of a stiff challenge it is going to be but I’m very confident in my capabilities and I think my pedigree in the amateurs and my professional fights so far will stand me in good stead to win this fight.”

The Commonwealth gold medallist insists the benefits of winning tomorrow night’s crunch clash far outweigh the risk of losing his unbeaten start to his professional career.

“We both could have taken easier fights,” he added. It is a risk for both of us but the benefits outweigh the risks. For me, that is the way it is.

“I wanted to fight and this was a chance to get a good fight before Christmas. It could lead to a final eliminator for a British title so I want to win on Saturday and then move onwards and upwards. It is a great opportunity.”

50/50 Chance

His opponent (12-0) also boasts an unbeaten record and, although he is fully confident of securing a shot at the British title next year, which Billy Joe Saunders and Nick Blackwell box for next weekend, he believes he has no more than a 50/50 chance of having his hand raised in victory tomorrow night.

“It is a British title eliminator so hopefully it will put me in line for a final eliminator and then maybe a shot at the British champion,” said Ryder.

“I am not going to get too far ahead of myself; Eamonn is a big, dangerous opponent so I have to get through him first. I am not taking it for granted; it is a two-horse race on Saturday so we are both there to win.

“It is a good match, a good 50-50 fight and I am sure it is one the fans will be excited to see on Sky Sports as it’s the ultimate risk-reward fight for both of us.

“It is definitely my biggest test yet, by far. Eamonn is a livewire, he is 8-0, he is in this business, he is 30 now and he has to start getting a move on.

“I haven’t seen too many of his fights. I saw him in the Prizefighter in Belfast, which he won, and his fight against Wayne Reed in Sheffield but I hadn’t seen too much of him before I started getting my research done for Saturday.

“He might be 30 but he is a young 30, he has not been in many hard fights, he has had a brilliant amateur career and I expect a nice, lively opponent.

“I have to be sensible, I have to box clever and not get involved in a fight. Eamonn looks big and strong so I will have to use my advantages against his.”