Connor Coyle edges closer to WBA showdown with Austin 'Ammo' Williams after defending title in Florida

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​CONNOR Coyle believes 'the time has come' for his coveted world title shot and is banking on a WBA showdown with undefeated Austin 'Ammo' Williams in the coming months.

​The Derry middleweight successfully defended his NABA title and moved to 19-0 with a polished, unanimous decision victory over durable Argentine Cristian Rios at the Hilton Carillon in Saint Petersburg, Florida on Saturday night.

It was the 32-year-old Galliagh man's first outing since stopping Sladan Janjanin last December but there was no sign of ring-rust as Coyle produced one of his finest displays as a professional to defend his strap and potentially improve on his No. 4 world ranking.

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Rios, a late stand-in opponent for Fernando Farias who withdrew from the 'Fight on the Bay' promotion last week, was no pushover having gone the distance with IBF No.1 middleweight Esquiva Falcão (30-0) last year and big hitting IBF champion David Lemieux in the recent past.

Connor Coyle and his team celebrate as he moves to 19-0 in Florida following his dominant victory over Cristian Rios at the Hilton Carillon in Saint Petersburg.Connor Coyle and his team celebrate as he moves to 19-0 in Florida following his dominant victory over Cristian Rios at the Hilton Carillon in Saint Petersburg.
Connor Coyle and his team celebrate as he moves to 19-0 in Florida following his dominant victory over Cristian Rios at the Hilton Carillon in Saint Petersburg.

However, Coyle dismantled the Argentine with clinical work to the head and body throughout the 10 rounds, delivering a barrage of heavy shots as his southpaw opponent ended the contest with bad swelling to both eyes.

Now it's on to bigger and better things, elite opponents and that potential world title shot as Coyle's team have already opened preliminary talks with Texan, 'Ammo' Williams' promoter Matchroom Sport.

"It was complete domination," said Coyle of his performance as he boarded his return flight to Dublin on Sunday evening.

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"It was a clinical boxing performance. I knew he (Rios) was tough. He went the distance with Esquiva Falcão and David Lemoiox - some heavy hitters.

"Falcão is No.1 in the world with the IBF. He went the distance with him about nine months ago. And he also went the distance with David Lemieux who is a monster puncher in the super middleweight division.

"So I knew he wasn't going to go down easily but I hurt him a lot. Every single round he was hurt, even body shots and shots to the head he was rocked a few times.

"I have to take my hat off to him because he was severely conditioned and he was a tough man."

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Coyle worked hard in the gym in the lead-up to the fight on his punching power and precision and it worked a treat.

"The gameplan for me was to sit down more on my punches and make the punches count,” he explained. “What I normally do is I go in and throw a lot of jabs and throw a lot of punches. I throw a lot of punches but there's no intention in the punches, I just want to get the volume up and throw for the sake of throwing.

"Last night I wanted every punch to count so I was sitting down on them and I was waiting and waiting and then bang! I just wanted every punch to count and if you take a look at his (Rios’) face last night, he was busted up and his both eyes were closed, he was bleeding and cut. I did damage with every punch I threw.

"People don't realise I'm a big puncher as I throw fast and throw a lot of punches. But when I control my punches and pick them out with precision, the punches are a lot harder and that's what happened last night. I selected my punches and when they landed they did damage. He could barely see in the later rounds.”

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It’s another 10 rounds in the tank for Coyle who believes he’s now ready for that career defining fight against the top fighters in the division.

“We're getting calls for ‘Ammo’ Williams so that's a possibility for a world title fight later this year. He's a Matchroom fighter, with Eddie Hearn. We keep getting the calls for him.

"So we did 10 rounds with a seasoned, solid, tough southpaw last night and I know fine rightly I'm ready to step up to the highest of the division.

"The higher calibre I step up to face the higher my performance is going to be and we always knew that. The time has come. I'm number four in the world and by the time the new rankings come out I could be up to number three or number two, you never know.

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"So the time is now. The world title has to happen this year. I've paid my dues. I've made my mark. Connor Coyle in the middleweight division is well known now.”

And Eddie Hearn it could be argued, owes him one having failed to deliver on the Felix Cash fight which fell victim to the collapsed Conor Benn and Chris Eubank Jr. bill last October.

Unofficial purse bids have been discussed but Coyle’s team are ensuring their man gets what he’s worth if talks are to continue.

So the 2014 Commonwealth medallist is on the cusp of his dream world title shot. With baby No. 3 on the way with fiancee Eva Vipartaite, Coyle is careful he not only gets a big payday but he’s confident he can become Derry’s first world boxing champ.

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"The phone is ringing to make that fight with ‘Ammo’ Williams happen but it has to be right and make sense, I'm not going to fight for nothing.

"We know what we're worth and need to be paid what we're worth for those sort of fights. My coach has been in the business for a long time and he's not stupid.

"I just have to listen to what he has to say. They have the money to pay us. They want the fight to happen. If they want the fight to happen then they'll pay us what we're worth.

"We’re worth a lot more than what we've been offered but they're getting there now. The purse is going up and the intention for us to fight is getting bigger. So it's going to happen in the next few months or by the end of the year anyway,” he said confidently.

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“It's right there now. WBA, NABA, that's my third belt I've lifted within the last 11 months. That's a top 10 contender belt that I've lifted and dominated for the past 11 months. For a full year I've won it and defended it. I'm ready for the world title now!

"The contract needs to make sense. We're not just going to take a fight for the sake of taking a fight. Everything has to fall into place, everything has to make sense. If it makes sense, let's make it happen. Every fight onwards is a big one.

"For now though I can’t wait to get home to my family and kids – the best part of it all!

“I’d like to my sponsors who have helped get me to this point: KSK Rathmor Engineering, Classique Floor Designs, The Bentley Bar, Indigo Interiors NYC, Phones Connect, The Celtic Bar, The Sooty Olive, The Thirsty Goat, Brooklands Fencing, Paul’s Butchers, Curley’s Cars.”