Titanic draw hasn’t sunk King Kane’s title dream

Eamonn O'Kane attempts to land a right hook during his IBF Inter-Continental title defence against Virgilijus Stapulionis.
Eamonn O'Kane attempts to land a right hook during his IBF Inter-Continental title defence against Virgilijus Stapulionis.

EAMONN O’KANE can’t bring himself to watch back his IBF Inter-Continental title defence against Virgilijus Stapulionis, describing the fight as an ‘anti-climax’.

It was a golden opportunity to edge towards a world title tilt and take advantage of the global television exposure on offer on the undercard of Carl Frampton’s successful world super-bantamweight title clash with Kiko Martinez in Belfast’s Titanic Quarter.

It was a fight which promised so much but when O’Kane does finally sit down to study his performance, he won’t find too many highlights from a stop-start, scrappy contest against his crude, awkward opponent as the referee appeared to spend most of his time pulling the boxers apart.

O’Kane was given a mandatory eight count with 24 seconds of the first round remaining after the Lithuanian landed a succession of right hands to the chin and finally behind the left ear of the Co. Derry man as he was draped helplessly across the ropes.

Stapulionis was then deducted a point in the second round but neither fighter took ownership of the ring.

And referee, Marcus McDonnell finally stopped the bout 2mins 47seconds into the fourth round due to a severe cut sustained above the right eye of Stapulionis after an accidental clash of heads in the second round when both boxers wildly attempted to land right hooks.

As the rules of the IBF state that four rounds of the fight must be completed before it goes to the scorecards, a technical draw was the result and O’Kane (12-1-1) finds himself no further forward in his quest to rise to the top of the division.

The 32 year-old Banagher man now plans to take time out before resuming his career and he’s hoping he can make a return before the end of the year.

“To say it didn’t go to plan would be an understatement,” he said. “I’m refusing to watch it at the minute. I’ll watch it later on in the week once I get my head away from boxing for a bit.

“I’ve sort of gone nowhere,” he added. “I didn’t go backwards and I didn’t go forward so it was like an anti-climax.

“I started off a bit rusty and he was slipping his right hand off well. We knew he had a dangerous right hand and I caught a shot on the back of the ear and I have the lump to prove it.

“My legs were gone but my head was clear and it took me a minute or two to get my legs back. Once I did I found it very hard to get my timing right because he was either very far away from me or else he was coming launching in with his right hand.

“He was quite awkward. But you have to learn to deal with these boys whenever you’re at this level.

“I believe I would have got better if the fight had of went on. I should have been better switched on from the start.

“I wasn’t going to sit back and let him land his right hand because if I had of backed off it would have opened up the shot he was looking for.

“Unfortunately I just have to put it down to a bad night at the office. And at this stage of my career you can’t really afford to have one of those.

“I’ll learn from it and make sure I don’t repeat that performance. So I’m no further forward but no further back. It goes to show that I can take a good shot because he was definitely very heavy handed.

“So that’s a positive I can take but the negative is that I shouldn’t be taking those shots in the first place.

“We’ll learn from it and we’ll make improvements.

“I was disappointed the fight ended like that. I’ve got to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

“I took about four days off after my last fight and didn’t really get a break. I want to take a good three or four weeks break, put a bit of weight on and spend a bit of time with my wife and kids.

“Ideally I’d like to get back out before the end of the year,” he concluded.