O’Kane starts Pro career with a bang!

©Mark Pearce/Presseye.com-1st June 2011 Press Eye Ltd- Northern Ireland _____ Mandatory Credit - Photo Mark Pearce/Presseye.com'Immaculata ABC , Belfast 'training session with Eamon O'Kane. '' Mandatory Credit Photo Mark Pearce / Presseye.com
©Mark Pearce/Presseye.com-1st June 2011 Press Eye Ltd- Northern Ireland _____ Mandatory Credit - Photo Mark Pearce/Presseye.com'Immaculata ABC , Belfast 'training session with Eamon O'Kane. '' Mandatory Credit Photo Mark Pearce / Presseye.com

EAMONN O’KANE got his professional boxing career off to a blistering start at the Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff on Saturday night with an impressive first round stoppage of Dimitrijus Kalinovskis.

The Banagher middleweight dropped the Lithuanian twice on the way to securing his debut victory 2mins 33seconds into the first round with a succession of powerful body shots.

Kalinovskis was a late replacement for the fight as Cardiff’s Joe Jones pulled out at short notice - the third opponent to do so - and although O’Kane made easy work of his first professional contest, he was delighted to finally get his much-anticipated journey underway.

“I enjoyed it and I thought it was a good performance,” said O’Kane. “I didn’t know what to expect and when I saw him at the weigh-in, he was tall and skinny. He could box and when I let him box, he did. So I had to get on top of him from the start.

“I just stayed close because he had that long reach and I let the punches go and I am happy. I was hurting him to the body as his head was not as easy to get to. It is as good a start as I could have hoped for and I am delighted.”

O’Kane’s opponent went down for a standing count in the first round, before more body shots left Kalinovskis lying in a heap on the floor, forcing the referee to stop the fight.

Irish Professional Debut

The 29 year-old Commonwealth Games Gold medallist aims to keep the momentum going and will return to the ring on June 25th when he makes his Irish professional debut in Craigavon’s Brownlow Leisure on the undercard of Stephen Haughian’s clash with Manchester’s Jeff Thomas.

“I’m due out again on June 25th, so all I want to do is keep fighting and keep winning,” he said. “I really enjoyed myself on Saturday and can’t wait to get in the ring again.

“But I know there is more work to be done and I want to move on to bigger and better things. I know I will have to work and train hard if want to do that.”

O’Kane’s close friend, world light-welterweight contender Paul McCloskey was at ringside on Saturday night and was impressed with what he saw.

“He did very well and there is more to come from him,” predicted ‘Dudey’. “Eamon is a good fighter and he showed that on the night.”

Maidana responsive to ‘Dudey’ challenge

The Dungiven southpaw is understood to be returning to the ring in September and he confirmed that his camp have made contact with hard-hitting Argentine, Marcos Maidana in relation to a possible clash in Ireland.

“Contact has been made but it is early days yet. We will have to wait and see, but we want the fight in Ireland,” he added.

McCloskey’s manager and father-in-law, Francie McNicholl has been in negotiations with Maidana about a possible clash and revealed this weekend that a match-up between the pair had been agreed “in principle”.

Indeed, McNicholl confirmed he had been in touch with Maidana’s adviser, Sebastián Contursi since late last week and believes that, if everything goes according to plan, ‘Dudey’ could be back in the ring as early as the beginning of September.

“We’ve agreed the fight with Maidana’s people in principle and if it goes ahead it looks like it could be held in either Northern Ireland or in the Republic,” said Mr. McNicholl.

“Negotiations are still ongoing but we are very happy with the exchanges so far.”

McCloskey’s last fight ended controversially when he lost to current WBA light-welterweight champion Amir Khan in a technical points decision after sustaining a cut above his eye in the sixth round. Like McCloskey, Maidana also lost to Khan in December 2010.

“Should the fight between Paul and Maidana go ahead I think both camps would be keen to portray their respective boxers as the men who were robbed by Amir Khan,” added McNicholl.