Derry boxer Connor Coyle staying positive as lockdown puts his USA plans on hold

CONNOR ‘The Kid’ Coyle has been left ‘frustrated’ by months of inactivity and the uncertainties facing professional boxers trying to make a living in the sport during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

The 30 year-old Galliagh man is no stranger to making sacrifices for his sport but admits he’s had to learn to adjust to the challenges the new government lockdown restrictions have brought.

Ten of his 12 professional fights have been fought in the USA where he has a contract with former four weight world champion, Roy Jones Jr.

His year usually consists of three or four trips to training camps in the Sunshine State of Florida where he joins up with his coach, Jim McLaughlin but a combination of the Covid-19 outbreak and visa issues have put pay to travelling to his US base meaning he hasn’t fought since his dominant victory over Miguel Dumas in Washington back on January 30th.

WAITING GAME . . . Derry middleweight Connor Coyle pictured at St Joseph's Boxing Gym in Galliagh. Picture by George Sweeney.

The 2014 Commonwealth bronze medalist had hoped to break into the WBC’s top five world rankings this year having agreed to fight for the North American Boxing Federation (NABF) title which was previously held by Donegal man, Jason Quigley.

However, the pandemic continues to play havoc with the boxing calendar and Coyle’s had several fight dates scrapped with no indication of when they might be rescheduled.

The unbeaten middleweight (12-0) is currently at home in Derry awaiting further instruction from his management team and admits he’s desperate to get back in the ring.

Coyle believes he’s approaching the peak of his powers and doesn’t want to waste any more time.

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FAMILY MAN . . . Connor Coyle pictured with his girlfriend, Eva, and his daughter, Clodagh-Rose, at his son Cálaeb’s christening.

“It’s frustrating,” he explained. “I was due to fight in April and then the first lockdown happened. We then got word I was to fight in August and then again at the end of October. So all these fights have been put aside until all the restrictions lift.”

The local puncher hasn’t had the best of luck with the US immigration service either as his visa forms have been held up due to the restrictions.

“The only thing which is holding me back is the immigration office now. I have to get my visa stamped before I can get back into America.

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“Once they open I’ll be straight back over and we will have a fight lined up as soon as possible.

“We have a contract with Roy Jones but obviously they can’t give us the fights because we can’t get into America. So I can’t have any fights.”

With Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Promotions and MTK Global regularly staging shows, Coyle is hoping his management team can agree to allowing him to fight in the UK should his plans to return to America be further delayed.

“We’re trying to work out a deal with them where I can fight here until I’m able to get into America to keep me busy in between.

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“I haven’t fought since January this year and it will probably be a year by the time I fight again and that’s too long.

“These are crucial years now for me. I’ve never taken any punishment in any of my fights and my coach says I’m nowhere near my peak yet.

“It’ll probably be another year before I reach my peak and I’ll be at my strongest.

“I just need a couple of 10 or 12 round fights and then I’ll peak. I’m fresh, I haven’t taken any beatings over the many years I’ve been fighting.”

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The former St Joseph’s ABC clubman has been keeping himself ticking over with his fitness regime, running almost 10 miles a day while sharpening his skills in the gym four or five days per week.

He had to shelve a planned trip to world champion, Katie Taylor’s dad’s gym in Dublin, however, where he had lined up sparring sessions.

“I’ve kept myself in shape. I’ve been in the gym boxing. The only thing I’ve been lacking is sparring. The last spar I had was with Jason Quigley.

“That was a great spar and we were both due to fight in April and then the lockdown happened and everything was up in the air.”

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In terms of an income in the absence of the big pay days, Coyle has been putting his skills to good use coaching clients who are fine-tuning their own punching prowess on the pads at local gyms.

It certainly doesn’t generate the kind of money he would be hoping to earn in the ring and with a four month-old son, Cálaeb, and four year-old daughter, Clodagh Rose, to care for, he’s thankful for his generous sponsors who have helped get him by over the last number of months.

“I do a bit of pad work coaching to keep my head above water but with these new restrictions I’m not sure how that’s going to affect me as it’s only individual training allowed.

“I’m just staying positive as there are a lot of other people in the same position. It’s not just me. I just have to keep positive, keep training and hopefully I’ll get a phone call soon.

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“I’m running every day for the full month of October. I wanted to do five miles every day but I’ve upped it to eight or nine miles and then doing my gym work four or five days a week in the boxing club.

“Elite level athletes are allowed to continue to train so I’m still in the gym doing my normal boxing work.

“I was talking to Pete Taylor last week about going down to spar with a few of his lads.

“I told him to give me a week or two to get myself up to speed but with these restrictions I’m not sure where that leaves me now. I might have to just sit tight again until the restrictions lift.

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“As soon as I get my visa stamped I can go but it is probably not going to be this year with the way things are looking.

“We’re trying to work out a thing with Roy Jones to get on an Eddie Hearn Matchroom show or MTK show over here. I can’t do anything until I hear back from Roy Jones as I can’t breach my contract.

“Right now I should be in the top five in the world with the WBC.

“That’s what was supposed to happen. I was supposed to fight for an NABF title fight in April and then everything happened. That’s been set aside for now.

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“I can’t wait to get back fighting again. Even to get back sparring and moving around the ring again.”

Connor would like to thank the following sponsors; The Thirsty Goat, The Bentley Bar, Classique Floor Designs, Frankie Ramsey’. Paul’s Butchers, Curley’s Cars and Brooklands Fencing