DERRY middleweight, Connor ‘The Kid’ Coyle is on a mission to make up for lost time in 2019 after an enforced injury lay-off last year.
It will be exactly eight months since his last fight when the talented puncher returns to the ring at the St Petersburg Coliseum in Florida on February 16th and he insists he’s ‘hungrier than ever’ to take his career onto the next level.
An impressive TKO stoppage of Danny Pastrana at the same venue last June was his only outing of a frustrating 2018 as Coyle’s pro boxing career hit a wall when he was diagnosed with Lyme Arthritis later that summer - a condition which causes inflammation of the joints and severe muscle pain.
It’s been a long and lonely road to recovery back home in Derry since but it’s been an experience which has left Coyle more determined to succeed as he looks for bigger and better opportunities. There’s already talk of contesting the RBO middleweight crown should he come through his next fight unscathed.
“I’m delighted to be back up on my feet again, and doing what I love,” beamed the 2014 Commonwealth Games bronze medallist. “I was diagnosed with a condition called Lyme Arthritis at the end of the summer. It’s a flare-up of joint pain all over my body so I’ve had a slow year in 2018 but I’m now fully recovered and back to full swing in regards of training,” he confirmed.
“I have to thank my specialist, Enda Masterson, from Master Health in Letterkenny who treated me and got me on my feet again and Cahir Duffy has put me through intense sessions at home once we got the go ahead for February 16th. He got me into better shape than we thought we would be.”
Those sessions could prove invaluable as the unbeaten Coyle faces undoubtedly the toughest test of his professional career. It’s a major step up in class as he takes on experienced Mexican fighter, Oscar Cortez who has 30 pro fights under his belt at just 25 years of age compared to Coyle’s eight! He’s been in the paid ranks for 10 years with just three losses on his record.
Cortez (27-3-0) suffered a TKO loss to Francis Lafreniere in Montreal in 2017 for the World Boxing Organisation’s NABO middleweight title - the only time he’s fought outside his native Mexico.
It’s a risky fight to take for Coyle having been out of action for so long but it’s evidence of his desire to make a name for himself and fast-track his career this year. And he reckons the Mexican will bring out the best in him.
The Galliagh man is leaving no stone unturned since returning to his Florida training base where he’s been sparring with the world ranked unbeaten 2012 Olympic medallist, Yamaguchi Falcao (16-0).
“I came back into camp here in Florida and was put straight in for an eight round spar which went very well,” explained Coyle.
“The day after I travelled to Plant City (Florida) to get another 10 rounds of sparring in with Yamaguchi Falcao. He’s world ranked No,8 with the WBC, so I have great sparring lined up for the next three weeks.
“Not being able to do what I love for a long time, I am now more hungry than ever and I’m ready to make a step forward and a step up in my professional career
“I start on February 16th when I take on Oscar Cortez. It’s a huge step up for me as I’ve only had eight fights but I know I’m more than capable of being fast-tracked onto bigger things. I just need a few more 10-12 round fights under my belt with experienced fighters to bring out the best in me.
“We are doing it smoothly at the same time, making sure every move is right.”
So what is Coyle expecting on February 16th?
“Mexicans are known to be very tough fighters so I’m expecting nothing less than a tough fight. I will stick to the game-plan we have and let the punches do the talking on the night.
“We’re taking it one fight at a time but we have big opportunities coming our way after this one. Boxing is the only thing on my mind this year, I don’t want a break, I need to get back and make up for what I missed out on last year.
“With the team I have with me here in Florida and the team I have at home, we are capable of getting big titles this year,” he insisted. “This is the year we move up!”
Coyle’s certainly starting the year with a bang as his clash with Cortez is the co-headline bout on the Roy Jones Jr-promoted Fire Fist bill which will also be shown live on UFC Fight Pass.
“I’d like to thank the support of my girlfriend, Eva, for caring for me when I was in a really bad condition and getting me to the hospital the days I needed it. She is the only person who really knew how bad I was as she had to spend night and day with me.
“Also I’d like to thank my sponsors in Derry who’ve supported me and continue to support me including Classique Floor Designs, Paul’s Butchers, S. Co, G&K Contracts, Ace Blinds, The Bentley Bar, The Metro Bar, Frankie Ramsey’s, Butties Chippy, James McClean and Doire Dress Designs.