EAMONN O’KANE has shared the ring with some of the biggest names in contemporary boxing during a glittering amateur career, so there’s nobody he fears facing when he returns to the ring on September 10th.
SIMON COLLINS reports
The big punching Banagher man features on the undercard of his good friend and fellow Derry man, Paul McCloskey’s WBA world title eliminator against Breidis Prescott at the Odyssey Arena and he’s waiting patiently on the announcement of his opponent for his third professional scrap.
O’Kane’s manager, Francie McNicholl is currently working on matching the 27 year-old with an opponent, however, it’s not always the easiest of tasks given his reputation.
The Commonwealth gold medallist has gone toe-to-toe with some of the star names in current boxing circles including world super middleweight contender, Andre Dirrell and former world champion Juan Pascal and has sparred with Brian Magee in the build-up to his Interim WBA world super middleweight victory over Jaime Barboza.
He also defeated British champion, George Groves in the Londoner’s last amateur fight and was narrowly defeated by European challenger, James De Gale during his extended stint in the amateur game.
As the Co. Derry man attempts to climb the professional ladder, he made easy work of his two pro. fights so far this year, with a first round TKO of Dmitrijus Kalinovskis last June quickly followed by an impressive sixth round stoppage of journey man, Tommy Tolan three weeks later.
Having been originally scheduled to fight on the undercard of Gavin Rees’ European lightweight title defence before the Welshman sustained a hand injury, O’Kane was delighted to get a chance to showcase his skills and claim a major scalp on such a fascinating bill which involves both McCloskey, and Carl Frampton.
“I’m looking forward to it, it’ll be good to get my third win on this massive bill,” said O’Kane. “I haven’t got an opponent scheduled yet but hopefully he’s a decent opponent with a decent record because it’ll be nice to take a big scalp in this big bill.
“There’s no reason why I can’t progress quickly, I’ve mixed it with the top fighters in the amateur game,” he continued.
“I’ve been at the World Series of Boxing and was unbeaten against the best in the world so I think I’m capable of moving up this professional game very quickly.
“My style suits it,” he added. “Making my debut in the Gavin Rees European title fight on Sky was great and now I get to have my third fight at home on Paul’s undercard is unbelievable.”
The powerful puncher has already held discussions with Matchroom Sports with regard to plans for an Irish or European title tilt in the near future and the ambitious O’Kane is also keen to emulate his friend ‘Dudey’ further down the line.
“Paul’s a good friend of mine and I’m just as excited about Paul’s fight as my own,” he said. “It’s great to be a part of it.
“Paul McCloskey is a big bright burning star for me so it would be great if I could emulate him and that’s what I wanted to move into the professional game and do well.
“We’ve been chatting to Eddie and Barry Hearn and they’ve been thinking big things for me. I would like Irish titles, British titles and European titles. I’m 29, I might be new to the pro game but I don’t think I’m naive to boxing and I think I can push up quickly.
“I was training and competing with some of the top boxers in the world. My sparring partner ended up world number one, Sergei Kharitonov, he won the World Series and I had been giving him a good going over and they actually had to stop the sparring with me because I had been getting the better of him.
“The Super middleweight world champion, Andre Dirrell beat me by three points in America. I’ve been in with Jean Pascal who’s a world champion and he beat me narrowly down in Cork.
“I’ve beat George Groves in his last amateur fight and I was beaten by two points by James De Gale. I’ve been in with John Duddy, Andy Lee, all the top names so there’s no reason why I can’t do as well as them in this game.
“If I can do what I’m good at then it’ll take a very good man to beat me. I’ve always been fit and ready for the game. I’ve always been prepared and so the more time I’ve got to get to my opponent, the better it suits me.”
O’Kane’s September 10th clash will be the first eight round bout he’s experienced but he believes he is better suited to the longer fights and insists he has the ability and natural fitness to ‘shine through’ on the night against anybody.
“Three rounds was always a struggle to try and get it over as quickly as possible,” continued O’Kane. “I enjoyed the six rounds and it took me five to get to Tommy Toland. He was a tough opponent. Whoever I’m fighting, eight rounds gives me plenty of time to get to him.”