EAMONN O’KANE is eyeing an all-Irish blockbuster fight against WBO middleweight champion, Andy Lee at Madison Square Garden next St Patrick’s Day.
While the Banagher middleweight’s world title dreams suffered a blow at the New York venue in the early hours of Sunday morning after a gutsy unanimous decision defeat to Tureano Johnson in the IBF title eliminator, he proved he can operate at world level.
And after winning over the Madison Square Garden capacity crowd after that brutal 12-round battle where he showed innate toughness to bounce back from two knockdowns in the first round, his coach, Paddy Fitzpatrick is hoping to take advantage of his new found popularity in the States and secure a tasty clash with Limerick’s Lee which will appeal to the American market.
Lee, of course, must first defend his title against the richly talented Billy Joe Saunders, but Fitzpatrick is confident that it would be a fight which would have mass appeal.
“New York loved seeing what Eamonn O’Kane was all about,” he said. “The fans came for drama and they got it. It makes sense for the American market for Andy Lee to fight Eamonn O’Kane on St Patrick’s Day in Madison Square Garden where HBO has fallen in love with Eamonn and he’s proven himself over there. It makes perfect sense.
“Andy’s next fight after Saunders can be a voluntary fight. I know Eamonn would need to be ranked in the top 15 with WBO but considering the type of fight he went through against Tureano Johnson, who is ranked highly by all four governing bodies, I don’t see that as an insurmountable stepping stone we can’t overcome.”
“There’s no way people could say Eamonn doesn’t deserve it. He’s proven he deserves to be at world level.
“That would be an exciting fight. Both those men they have proved they bring excitement and drama and that’s why we watch this sport.
“A fight with Andy is definitely not a pipe-dream.”
O’Kane has spent two days at Bellevue Hospital Center in lower Manhattan as a precautionary measure after suffering from severe dehydration and is hoping to return home on Tuesday.
Fitzpatrick insists his fighter needs rest and will take time out before plotting their next move, But an all-Irish clash against Lee, who he went toe-to-toe with as amateur, is very much on O’Kane’s radar.
“That fight is one everyone would get behind,” added Fitzpatrick. “The American audience would get behind it. New York would get behind it because an Irish man in New York isn’t far from home. HBO would love it. It would make sense for Andy financially because it would sell no problem. When have you seen two Irish men fighting for a world title?
We have to be realistic and understand how brutal the fight against Johnson was. He needs complete rest but he’s in unbelievable good shape for a man who has been through such a brutal fight.
“They fell in love with him over here in New York. He just wanted to do Ireland proud and he certainly did that.”
That would be an exciting fight. Both those men they have proved they bring excitement and drama and that’s why we watch this sport.Paddy Fitzpatrick