‘Everything is starting to fall into place’ - NBA champion Connor Coyle

Referee, Telis Assimenios raises Connor Coyle's hand after his TKO win over Danny Pastrana as fellow Galliagh native John Cooley celebrates.
Referee, Telis Assimenios raises Connor Coyle's hand after his TKO win over Danny Pastrana as fellow Galliagh native John Cooley celebrates.

CONNOR ‘The Kid’ Coyle believes he’s beginning to ‘make waves’ in the USA after capturing his first professional boxing title in stunning fashion.

The slick-punching Galliagh middleweight stretched his unbeaten record to 8-0 in the early hours of Sunday morning with an emphatic sixth-round TKO of Danny Pastrana in Florida to win the NBA Intercontinental strap.

He headlined the sold-out show at the Coliseum in St Petersburg which was streamed to a worldwide audience and believes his stylish stoppage win will ‘open doors’ to bigger and better things.

“It’s great to get my first professional title in my eighth fight and headlining such a big show which was streamed all around the world,” he said.

“I’m definitely happy about it and it’s opened up a lot of doors now with bigger fights on the line,” added a delighted Coyle as he made his way to Miami to continue his celebrations on Sunday.

It was the 2014 Commonwealth Games bronze medallist’s first outing of the year but there was no ring rust as all the hard graft in his training camp and the many sacrifices made reaped its rewards.

“I’ve never been more focussed and have never put as much into any other training camp. This is definitely been the best one mentally, physically, everything was on point. Nothing distracted me, nothing got me down, Everything went smoothly and it paid off.

“It’s my first time out this year but I was well ready for it,” he continued. “I was more eager than anything because I’ve been out for so long but it all paid off. I prepared for it with great sparring so there was no rustiness.

“It leaves more opportunities now.”

It wasn’t the complete performance but he believes he’ll learn from mistakes made in the early stages of this scheduled 10-rounder.

“I got a bit of feedback after the fight my coaches were telling me I need to keep the chin down and ‘do this when he does that’ and I like that constructive criticism. It’s only my eighth fight as a professional.”

The Derry man ticks all the right boxes in terms of marketability in the States and with the NBA middleweight strap now wrapped around his waist, he reckons he will secure more title opportunities before the end of the year.

“What a lovely belt it is,” he laughed. “It’s class looking and it will give me confidence. The plan is to defend it on October 6th on national television and streamed live again worldwide. Hopefully I’ll be fighting for another title on the same night as well as defending this belt.

“I’m going to take a few weeks off now and enjoy myself and then get back to training again.”

In the build-up to the fight he was interviewed for an article in ‘the boxing bible’ The Ring magazine which he used to read on his way to sparring sessions as a youth which gave him a huge boost in confidence knowing people were starting to take notice.

“I couldn’t believe it when The Ring magazine contacted me to do a story,” he enthused. “I’ve been reading it for years. My amateur coach, Cahir (Duffy) would always have it in the back of his jeep whenever we were going to Dungiven on Sundays to spar whenever I was just a youth boxer. And for my name to be actually in it and my story at this early stage of my career is unbelievable. It’s the bible of boxing.

“Everything is starting to fall into place. I’m starting to get noticed and starting to make the waves now.”

Pastrana proved a tough customer in the opening round but once Coyle got into his stride and found his range with the jab, he began to dismantle the defence of the Florida native.

And when he hit him flush with a straight right hand to the chin, he followed it up with a right hook which sent the American crashing to the canvas for an eight count. However, referee Telis Assimenios deemed him unfit to continue and Coyle had his hand raised in victory at an official time of 2:50.

“He was definitely tough and he had a full 12 weeks training camp so he came in great shape and came to knock me out,” explained Coyle.

“His gameplan was to put me under pressure from the first round and he said he didn’t think I could box well on the back foot. His gameplan was to put me under pressure and make me fold.

“It didn’t go to plan and I fought him at his game. We fought toe-to-toe in the middle of the ring. Whenever I came back to my corner my coach got on to me, telling me to stick to the gameplan.

“When I came back out I established the jab and every round after that he just couldn’t deal with the speed of the jab. That was the main thing, the jab and the footwork. He couldn’t touch me.

“The plan was to break him down, take him out to deep water and then finish him before the end and that’s what happened.

“It was a right hand straight on the money on the chin and then another one right after. I haven’t watched the fight back but that’s what I remember.

“It took him a count of eight to get up but his legs were gone. “I’d like to thank Jody from Fire Fist Boxing Promotions for this opportunity and dedicate my first professional title to my baby girl Clódagh-rose!,” he concluded.