Bernard O’Neill reflects on Gary O’Sullivan’s amazing boxing performance on Saturday night
ALL Gary ‘Celtic Rebel’ O’Sullivan wanted for his birthday was the vacant WBO International middleweight title.
And the undefeated Cork fighter got his wish after hammering out a career best win in front of over 30,000 fight fans at the home of West Ham United in London on Saturday night.
O’Sullivan, who celebrated his 28th birthday on Saturday, stretched his undefeated run to 15 fights after earning a unanimous (117-111,115-114,117,111) decision from a slug fest with Manchester’s Matthew Hall at Upton Park.
The Leesider, who trains at the Celtic Warrior Gym in Dublin, has now been handed a 120 day deadline to defend his WBO crown — and he’s hoping that defence will be in Cork.
O’Sullivan, of the Loughmahon BC, said that he was thrilled with Saturday’s win, but everything that could go wrong in the approach to the weekend’s fight, did go wrong.
“Our flight to London was delayed by five hours and then I weighed in one pound over the limit and I had to get into the sauna to lose that and I also picked up a bit of a chest infection, said the new champ, who has now shot up the rankings into the top 10 in the world.
“Everything that could have gone wrong seemed to be going wrong, but in the end it all worked out for me perfectly for me as Saturday was my birthday and I went to London and collected the only gift I wanted.
“I’m delighted with my performances, particularly as we were given the fight at such short notice and I had to lose 18 pounds in just a two and a half weeks.
“He (Hall) had more time to prepare for the fight and I’m very happy with my performance in that respect also. He was one tough fighter and it was the most entertaining fight of the night, a real battle from start to finish.
“Pascal (his coach) told me to get on my bike and up the pace and show the judges what I could do in the last round and I did that and I thought I finished very well.
“We’ve been given 120 days to defend the title. Hopefully, that will be in Cork.
“I would love to defend it at home and if it were my choice my title defence would be in Cork.”
Hall, an ex British champion and European title challenger, was very durable according to Pat Byrne, who was working O’Sullivan’s corner with brothers Pascal and Michael Collins at Upton Park.
“They went at each other toe-to-toe for most of the night. It was a tough and exciting fight between two heavy hitters, but Gary had much more agility and was able to cut off the ring better, he said.
“We’re delighted for Gary as he really wanted this win and he worked so hard for it and he gave it everything. His opponent took some big shots in there.
“When Gary came in with those left hooks followed by a right he was in charge and causing damage.They were heavy shots and Hall took a lot of punishment.”
Saturday’s was the first time that O’Sullivan was extended over ten rounds since he beat Belfast’s Ciaran Healy to claim the vacant Irish middleweight belt in Cork in 2009.
But any doubts that the Mahon man’s stamina and conditioning might not be up to 12 frames were emphatically answered at Upton Park.
“If anything, Gary finished stronger. He came on very strong in the last round of what was a very tough fight.
We put him through a vicious training camp and it showed on Saturday night,” added Byrne.
O’Sullivan and Hall co-headlined on the controversial David Haye/Dereck Chisora card in London. Haye dropped Chisora with a brutal combination in the fifth.
Chisora staggered to his feet, but was hit with another barrage from Haye and it was all over.