WORLD super-middleweight contender, George Groves will be at ringside in Lavey Community Centre on Saturday week to lend his support to his stablemate and sparring partner, Eamonn O’Kane.
The Londoner, who is mandatory challenger for the WBC super-middleweight belt, has been sparring with O’Kane at trainer, Paddy Fitzpatrick’s gym in Swindon in the build-up to O’Kane’s upcoming fight against Lewis Taylor.
O’Kane, ranked No. 7 by the IBF, is closing in on his own world title shot but he must first register a convincing victory over the unbeaten Englishman next weekend.
The Banagher man puts his IBF Inter-Continental strap on the line and he believes he’s now ‘withing touching distance’ of his dream world title shot.
“I actually had my last spar with George yesterday (Wednesday),” said O’Kane who arrived back home last night. “He’s a great guy and a very good trainer and it’s just good to be rubbing shoulders with him.
“It’s a great honour that he’s coming over to support me in the show because he has a lot going on himself at the minute.
“He has this world title (against winner of the Anthony Dirrell v Badou Jack title fight in Chicago tonight) coming up and he’s in the process of getting ready for that. So it’s good that he can find the time to come over and support us.”
It’s not as if O’Kane needs an added incentive to put on a show for the estimated 2,000 support in the Co, Derry venue but he will certainly be hoping to impress Groves and the IBF representatives.
Ready to seize the moment
He faces a dangerous opponent in Taylor but O’Kane insist he won’t let the Englishman spoil his party and promises to ruin his unblemished record by giving him his first taste of defeat in the pro ranks.
I actually had my last spar with George yesterday (Wednesday). He’s a great guy and a very good trainer and it’s just good to be rubbing shoulders with him.Eamonn O’Kane
“I’m ranked No. 7 with the IBF so I’m within touching distance,” said O’Kane. “Hassan D’Dam has already been in contact saying he would love to fight me,” revealed O’Kane. “That would be a fight which would sell well in Ireland.
“It’s a dream of mine and it’s the reason why at 33 years-old I’m making these sacrifices is because I want the world title.
“I want to bring it home for the people of Derry. It’s a realistic goal but the first step is doing a job on Saturday night and I intend to do that.”
O’Kane believes he’s become a much more refined and rounded boxer since joining forces with Grove’s trainer, Fitzpatrick.
He delivered a fourth round TKO of his opponent, Ferenc Hafner in his last outing - his first with Fitzpatrick in his corner- and had his opponent down six times during that fight!
He believes he’s undergone ‘massive improvements’ and he’s eager to show his home fans how far he’s come on since his disappointing draw against Virgilijus Stapulionis in the Titanic Quarter last September.
“Physically, I’m one of the strongest middleweights in the world - there’s no doubt about that,” he claimed.
“We’ve been working on technique,timing, speed which are all factors. It’s about punching at the right times and punching correctly.
“I notice a big difference and I’m hurting sparring partners. I put my last opponent down six times in my first fight with Paddy.
“So we’re already seeing massive improvements. He has an unbeaten record. He doesn’t know what it’s like to lose and I want him to experience that.
“Paddy is a hard task master but it’s for my own good and I’m enjoying working under him.
“He’s happy with my progress so things are good.
“I know it will all come together and I’m looking forward to doing a good job on Lewis Taylor.”
“I’m not underestimating him at all. I need to do a good job on him if I’m looking to move on to bigger things.”
O’Kane’s dad, Laurence has been busy putting the final touches to next week’s show and he’s excited about how it’s shaping up.
“I’m looking forward to it at this stage.
“My dad and all the crew have done a great job organising the show. It sounds like it’s going to be a great night. It’s an action packed show with good quality on the card.”