Recently we caught up with renowned boxing coach Paschal Collins, the trainer of fighters such as Gary ‘Spike’ O Sulliivan, Frank Buglioni, Jono Carroll and many more at the Celtic Warrior Gym in Dublin, Ireland.
Paschal told us how Spike has been since his defeat to Chris Eubank and why he stopped the fight. He also filled us in on the progress of Jono Carroll and what’s next for Frank Buglioni, plus much more.
The ‘Collins’ name is famous in Irish boxing with Paschal’s brother Steve a former WBO Middleweight and Super Middleweight Champion, making Steve the most successful Irish boxer in professional boxing history in the eyes of many.
Paschal’s nephew, Steve’s son Steve Collins Jr is also a professional boxer. Paschal told us how his father built a gym in their house and how his Uncle Terry boxed and beat the notorious Reggie Kray (of the Kray twins).
I asked Paschal what it was like growing up in such a boxing crazy family and how boxing had shaped his early years:
“Since I can first remember as a child I have always been in a boxing gym, my Dad built a boxing gym at the back of our house. My Dad and his brother Terry were very good amateurs who also did a bit of Prizefighting, my Uncle Terry once boxed and beat Reggie Kray, that was his claim to fame. On my Mother’s side of the family her brothers all boxed but her brother, my Uncle Jack, was the most talented. He won over 20 Irish national titles with senior titles at middle, light heavy and heavyweight, he also beat the semi finalist and finalist in the Mexico Olympics as an international for Ireland but unfortunately he couldn’t compete in the Olympics as he was on a ship to New York working the engine room. As a kid I spent most of my time travelling to the boxing gym with my brother Steve. My father died while out jogging at a very early age, my brothers Stephen and Roddy took me under their wing which meant I spent a lot of time around boxing and football and even lived and trained in Brockton Massachusetts with Steve during the Marvin Hagler era back in the 80’s. It was an amazing time watching guys like Hagler, Mickey ward, Freddie Roach and of course my brother Steve and to be in their presence was just mind blowing.”
Gary ‘Spike’ O’Sullivan
Irish middleweight contender Gary Spike O’ Sullivan who is trained by Paschal recently lost to Chris Eubank. Spike took the defeat hard, although he did suffer an injury to his ear which affected his balance on the night.
Spike hurt Eubank on a few occasions, but he couldn’t land really hurtful shots due to the injury. (Highlights of round 2 in the fight via YouTube account Live Trending):
Paschal told us why he stopped the fight, and that he expects Spike to have surgery, but that he also anticipates him back in the gym very soon:
“Spike was down in himself a little because he lost by stoppage. However I pointed out to Spike that he didn’t quit, I stopped the fight, and with good reason. If you could listen in the corner during the breaks, you could hear myself and Spike discuss at the end of the 2nd round that he believed his ear drum went again, so I told him we will take it one round at a time. I also told him because of this fact he needs to jump on Chris and try get him out of there, as showed in round 3, when Spike rocked him a number of times. But as the fight went on Spike’s balance was all over the place and Chris is a pretty good fighter who was landing some big shots. I told Spike in round 5 I was stopping the fight but he begged me for another round, which he did then move forward throwing some big shots, but by round 7 I thought enough is enough. After looking back on the fight Spike agreed it was the right decision. Right now he is having a small procedure to fix this re-occurring problem with his ear drum and he will be back training within the next few weeks.”
The possibility of Spike facing fellow Irishman and friend Eamon O’ Kane has been rumoured recently and Paschal has confirmed to us that talks over a possible fight are ongoing. Both Paschal and Paddy Fitzpatrick (trainer of Eamon O’ Kane) think it will be a good fight for both, as they are both coming off defeats:
“Regarding Spike fighting Eamon O’ Kane, I believe its a great fight for both guys. They have sparred each other a number of times and they are both very respectful of each other who if they had there way, wouldn’t fight each other because of their friendship, but both coming off losses it makes sense as being professionals they can put their friendship aside until after the fight. At this moment the fight is under negotiation.”
Our conversation then moved to Jono Carroll, one of Ireland’s most exciting young fighters at the moment and trains out of Paschal’s gym.
Jono recently fought on the undercard of the Fury v Klitschko event in Germany, putting in a fine performance to boot.
The fight was scheduled to be a 6 rounder but that had changed by fight night to a 10 rounder. Paschal say’s this didn’t faze the Dublin man:
“Jono Carroll put on a great performance in his last fight on the Fury-Klitschko card, considering he took a 6 round fight at 5 days notice that became an 8 rounder 2 days out, and then one day out became a ten rounder. I think putting boxing aside, it shows great character in Jono and you still have to remember he’s been only boxing for just over a year. I am waiting on a date in March for Jono, but he is in the gym training and learning at the moment.”
As our chat progressed, we moved on to another talented and widely regarded Paschal Collins pupil, Frank Buglioni.
Frank fought Fedor Chudinov for the WBA Super Middleweight title last September, where he would lose the fight eventually but Paschal believes it was to early for Frank to be World Champion, but nonetheless it was an opportunity they couldn’t turn down.
Paschal expects Frank to return to action in the Spring, but this time he will be fighting at Light-Heavyweight:
“Frank Buglioni put in a great performance in his World title fight against a very good champion who has never lost both amateur or professional and although he lost a wide decision, he showed heart and determination and he did have the champion on the floor at the end of the 6th. If that knockdown had come 30 seconds earlier who knows, maybe Frank would be World champion right now. We also believe it would have been too early for him to win a World Title though, as he is still learning. When the World title offer came about it would have been crazy to turn it down. Frank will have his next fight in maybe march or April and he will fight as a Light-Heavyweight, as we believe sometimes it took too much out of Frank making the Super Middleweight limit.”
MGM promotion’s has brought big time boxing back to Ireland and has more shows planned for 2016.
This has given Irish fighter’s the platform to show their talent and Paschal believes this is only a good thing for Irish boxing:
“MGM promotions are doing plenty of shows in Ireland which gives Irish fighters work and a chance to showcase their talent, and now that they have teamed up with Frank Warren and Box Nation its an extra bonus, as the rest of the World can now see why we are known as the fighting Irish. I believe they are doing great work here and long may it last.”
Steve Collins Jr
We then proceeded to chat about Paschal’s nephew Steve Collins Jr (son of Steve Collins) who turned pro with only one amateur fight under his belt, but Paschal says this has not hindered him, and that he does his learning in the ring.
Injury has kept out at times but Steve has progressed well overall. He is now fit and returns to the ring on Feb 5th. Paschal hopes his injuries are behind him and he can now focus his boxing:
“Steve Collins Jr had only one amateur fight but boxing is in his blood so he does all his learning in the gym and when he fights. But his progress is fantastic, he is a very fast learner and his work ethic is unreal. He has been plagued with a reoccurring injury but after a number of operations it seems to be sorted so he fights this Feb and March and if the arm holds up, we will get him out as much as we can.”
One of the biggest combat sports stories in the media over the last number of months is a possible cross-over fight between Conor McGregor and Floyd Mayweather.
Conor who has been down to the Celtic Warrior gym has offered Mayweather a 80/20 McGregor’s favour. Paschal doesn’t see why it can’t happen once the money is right:
“Conor Mcgregor and Floyd Mayweather fighting each other, all I can say is if the money is right and the interest is there, anything is possible. But it would have to be boxing rules.”
Fighters to watch out for this year from the Celtic Warrior Gym
As our conversation drew to an end,we spoke about some of Paschal’s other boxers.
Paschal trains many fighters at the Celtic Warrior Gym, from men to women, and he gave us the lowdown on who we should look out for in the future:
”Most of my fighters in the gym have been on TV and have had plenty of exposure. However I have heavyweight Niall Kennedy who was one of the top amateurs in the country. He is 3-0 and is fighting in Boston on March 19th. He has improved so much in the last year and in the next 12 months I think is going be a break through year for him. I also have a very talented young girl in the gym called Lynn Harvey. She was a national champion as an amateur and won her pro debut recently. Being a big ticket seller and an all-action fighter, she would be a promoter’s dream. Also recently featherweight Alan Phelan has joined the gym alongside Pajo Hyland.”
(Top image source and credit: WhoaTV)
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