Derry middleweight Connor Coyle set for ring return in Mexico
DERRY middleweight Connor Coyle has proven he’s prepared to go the extra mile in his bid to reawaken his boxing career which stagnated in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The undefeated former Commonwealth Games medalist’s career was on an upward trajectory after a first round stoppage of Miguel Dumas in Washington stretched his professional record to 12-0.
However, like so many other boxers, Coyle then found himself grounded due to Covid travel restrictions but after a 15 months hiatus the Galliagh man has finally agreed a return to the ring.
Coyle, who insists he’s in ‘phenomenal shape’ after a 12 week training camp, will travel to Chihuahua, Mexico to take on Mexican journeyman Esteban Villalba on April 9th.
For a man who has fought 10 of his 12 professional fights in the USA, Coyle certainly isn’t afraid to clock up the air miles in search of his dream and he’s excited for the chance to shake off the ring rust as he prepares for a 14,000 miles round-trip next week.
Coyle’s mission is to break into the world top 10 rankings by the end of the year and so he’s not fazed by a daunting trip which will see him touch down in Paris before continuing his journey to Mexico City where he takes a connecting flight to Chihuahua.
It’s hardly ideal preparation for a fight but despite landing in Mexico just two days before the fight, he’s confident he will deliver an eye-catching performance to see his career finally take flight.
“With the current restrictions it’s just difficult to get a fight,” he explained. “We were talking to MTK Global about a possible WBO European title fight but then it didn’t happen so I had to get another fight soon.
“I’ve been training hard since after Christmas and I needed to get back into the ring. An opportunity came up in Mexico and we took it so I’m ready and eager to get on the plane and do my thing again.”
Coyle’s Hall of Fame coach, Jim McLoughlin and his team will meet up with Coyle in Mexico City and they will complete the journey together.
“My whole team from Florida will meet me at the airport when I land and will be in my corner,” he confirmed. “I’ll land at 10p.m. on Thursday, weigh in on Friday, fight Saturday and travel home again on Sunday.
"It’s straight over and back. I’ve never had this situation before but I know when I travel to Florida it’s a full day travelling. I get there, go to sleep and I’m able to go training the next day.
“The jet lag doesn’t normally kick in until a good week or so afterwards so I think I should be okay in that regard.”
It’s straight down to business when he arrives but despite travelling into the Mexican’s backyard on his whistle-stop tour, Coyle is unfazed and eager to showcase his skills.
Villalba has proven he has the power to hurt opponents but Coyle is confident he will get the job done inside the distance.
“He’s a journeyman but he’s a tough operator and I’m not expecting anything less than a tough fight,” he said,
“Mexican fighters are renowned for being durable and I’m expecting this guy to be the toughest Mexican I’ve faced so far. He’s hungry for the win and is fighting to put food on his table. He’s from Chihuahua which is a tough part of Mexico so he will be tough and will be expecting to go the duration.
“We’ve been working a lot on body work so we will be focusing on the body to finish him but I’m fit enough to go the rounds. I’ll be ready no matter what. I’ll just go out, enjoy it and get the rounds under my belt. If the opportunity comes I’ll take him out of there.
“You don’t get paid for overtime but it would be nice to get a few rounds under my belt and shake off the cobwebs that have been gathering over the last 15 months.”
It’s been the most difficult and frustrating period of his professional boxing career but he plans to keep busy over the next eight months. Providing everything goes to plan and travel restrictions are eased, Coyle expects to make a quickfire return to Mexico in May before an extended stay at his Florida base.
“It’s been tough but hopefully the worst of it is over and having this fight in front of me helps with the motivation to get cracking.
“I’ll have another fight in Mexico next May if everything goes well and then hopefully my visa will be sorted for after the summer. If I get over to America again in August or September, I’ll probably stay there until close to Christmas and get as many fights as I can.”
The former St Joseph’s ABC clubman reckons he’s in peak shape having been in full training mode since Christmas and he can’t wait to trade leather again in the ring.
“I feel just as good as I did before my last fight so that’s a good sign. I feel sharp and stronger. I’m punching harder. My punches definitely have more power in them.
"I’ve done 12 weeks of hard training and now I get to showcase my skills when I get to Mexico. I started this year with a bang in training and I will keep it up. And I’d like to thank Cahair (Duffy) for helping me get in top shape.”
Despite knowing little of his opponent, Coyle is only concerned about his own performance.
“I know my ability. I know my talent and I’m not afraid to step in the ring with anybody. It doesn’t matter if it’s in their own backyard or they come to me. I’m happy with my own progress and skills and confident I can beat any opponent I step in the ring with. That’s the main thing, it doesn’t matter where you fight.”
Coyle’s aim remains to break into the top 10 of the middleweight rankings and challenge for a major title by the end of 2021.
“If I can get to Mexico and brush off these next couple of fights, then I’ll go for the bigger fights closer to the end of the year. We have a couple of big things lined up for when I get back to America. But just getting back is my main priority for now.
“It’s good that I’ve got that focus again and can build my record up again. I’ll try and break into the world top 10 by the end of the year if everything goes to plan.”