Recently I caught up with Irish boxing trainer Paddy Fitzpatrick to see what he had to say about recent Eamonn O’Kane vs Gary ‘Spike’ O’Sullivan talks, his former fighter George Groves and the upcoming Carl Frampton v Scott Quigg super-bantamweight unification showdown.
Earlier in the week I interviewed Paschal Collins who trains Irish middleweight contender ‘Spike’ O’Sullivan. He told us that a fight between Spike and Eamonn O’Kane was in the process of being made, and that he believed it was a good fight for both guys.
Boxing trainer Paddy Fitzpatrick who trains O’Kane, agrees with Packie and believes it’s a fight the whole of Ireland can get behind, and that both men are evenly matched:
“I think the fight with Eamonn and Spike is evenly matched and a good move for both men right now in their careers. It’s a fight all of Ireland could get behind as I can’t remember a time we have had two world ranked fighters in the same division facing each other. Their styles make for guaranteed excitement also.”
There has been rumours that a tournament could be set up in which Irish Middleweight Andy Lee, Matthew Macklin, Spike O’Sullivan and Eamonn O’Kane fight in a round robin style event. Here is what Paddy had to say on the matter:
“The tournament you’re on about of course could happen. As you say there’s already a big buzz around the possibility of Eamonn and Spike meeting. If Andy and Mathew were to meet also and they were all on the same show I think it would be a massive event. Of course a lot has to happen before it actually becomes a reality as everyone has their own direction they would like to go next in mind, but we can talk about it over Guinness until then and who knows.”
Paddy has been co-promoting shows with KM Promotions in England and they have a show coming up in March in Swindon. Boxing News and Views’ very own Sam Smith will be in action, as will Luke ‘The Duke’ Watkins, who compete in an 8 rounder. Eamonn O’Kane was scheduled to fight on the bill but Paddy says injury prevented him from fighting:
“‘March Madness’ is the 5th show between myself and KM Promotions and the second of a seven show deal we signed before Christmas. Eamonn unfortunately won’t be on that one now as we have a few injury niggles to sort out and we don’t want him to be coming back anything less than in perfect health. Duke is the chief support over 8 rounds and Sniper Sam Smith will be having his third outing (he’s out Feb 13th also) over 6 rounds.”
Eamonn O’Kane is ranked number 8 by the IBF, of which Gennady Golovkin recently defeated David Lemieux for the title of. Paddy can’t see Eamonn or anybody for that matter getting a title shot this year unless they already hold one of the belts:
“No, I don’t see Eamon. Or many other men at middleweight getting a shot this year regardless of their position as I believe the unifications will keep the champions busy in 2016.”
Two fighters with bright futures ahead of them are Sam Smith and Luke Watkins, no doubt about it. Paddy believes both are destined for great things in the sport.
Luke who is undefeated in his first 6 fights and recently beat Sandor Balogh, has been with Paddy since the age of 8. Paddy believes ‘The Duke’ is only getting better and will be champion one day:
“Duke has been with me since he first put gloves on 8 years ago. I told him 5 years ago before he was necessarily displaying it technically that he had what it takes to be a World champion and I believe it more each gym session and talk we have which are regular and extensive between us.”
Sam ‘The Sniper’ Smith won his debut back in September and has a busy schedule ahead of him, with 7 fights in the next 12 months.
Paddy believes he will be able to handle this baptism of fire and says it is an honour to work with ‘The Sniper’:
“Sam is an extremely focused and dedicated student and I’m honoured to have him with me. If I give him something to study he will make it his priority to do so. We have a busy schedule laid out for him in his first year with 7 fights already set over 12 months, and I’m excited to see his progression and development.”
Paddy who has been involved in boxing most of his life says he has never seen Irish boxing doing so well, in both amateur and pro ranks.
He credits fighters like Katie Taylor, Michael Conlan and Carl Frampton for helping grow the sport here in Ireland. He also gives Packie Collins and MGM a special mention for helping the Irish Boxing resurgence recently:
“Irish boxing is buzzing and I couldn’t be happier for all involved. I can’t remember in my 47 years in boxing when it’s been stronger as a whole, both amateur and pro. We’re a fighting nation and it is great to see so many of our fighters amateur and pro doing so well on the world stage. Packie Collins is doing great things in Dublin, MGM are bringing back shows and opportunities for our guys to box at home. Our amateur squad are a major force on the world stage, and with the Conlans, Paddy Barnes, Katie Taylor, Carl Frampton, the list is endless. It’s a great honour to play any part in it.”
Ireland’s boxing team is looking for success in Rio this year and Michael Conlon is looking to add Olympic Gold to his World and European titles.
Paddy believes Michael can go all the way in Rio and sees no reason he can’t succeed in the pro ranks. Michael has complete belief in himslef and Paddy shares in his confidence that he will bring Gold back home to Ireland:
“I think Michael is exceptional and yes I believe he can go all the way in Rio and have Irish eyes smiling. As for the pros, there’s no reason why he can’t duplicate that success but lets leave the rest of that question until then.”
Many boxing fans will know know Paddy from his time with George Groves, when Paddy trained Groves before he faced Carl Froch in 2013 and in the subsequent rematch in 2014.
Paddy believes that the first fight was stopped too early, and that Froch was in big trouble in the first bout but was allowed to continue. He holds no grudge against the referee on the night (Howard Foster) but that a world title fight should never finish in that way.
In the second fight he thought Groves was winning the contest and was in control, the game plan was going according to plan then BANG! He know’s what a great fighter Froch was, but he was gutted for George he said:
“I think the first fight with Carl was stopped too early. I agree when people say George was hurt but in fairness so was Carl in the first round and he was allowed the opportunity to continue. I don’t think Howard Foster acted out of any bad intentions but I think he reacted a bit too quickly, especially it being for a world title fight and George should have been allowed the same opportunity to show he could carry on.”
Regarding the second fight, he mentioned:
“In the second fight I think George was winning more clearly than the first one. I know a lot of fans will disagree with that as the first fight was so exciting, but George’s Jab was working better and the plan was to recreate the first fight in the second half of the second fight. At the end of the 5th I told George: “That’s no good”. We didn’t train to be on the ropes, so don’t go there. Carl had that round. Round 6 was good and 7 he was back to doing what he had been, so at the end of the round I told him: “It’s time to start edging him back. Don’t walk into the fire just yet, but double up on your jab and use your one-twos to back him up now.” Unfortunately he went to the ropes again and shot the hook from the wrong side of the line. The rest is history. I was gutted for him, but fair play to Carl. He did what champions do and found a way to win.”
Paddy and George have now parted ways, and Paddy acknowledges that they weren’t getting the right results and that perhaps their characters didn’t match and that he wasn’t getting the best out of George. Paddy felt it was time to move on, but wishes George and new coach Shane McGuigan all the best in the future:
“I decided it was time move on. It was obvious we weren’t getting the results we should be or at least wanted, for whatever reason. George has said I wasn’t getting the best out of him and I have no problem with him saying that. I don’t think our characters blended, truth be told, but it is what it is. I’m passionate about boxing and live and breath it 24/7. If I didn’t know George I would watch him and so will continue to do so. If Shane whom I think is an excellent coach can have the bond needed between a coach and a fighter and in turn bring the best out of him, that’s great, and I wish them both the very best.”
The huge domestic world title fight between Scott Quigg and Carl Frampton is just around the corner and like everybody else, Paddy can’t wait.
He is backing Carl Frampton to get the job done but think’s the game plan of both fighters is key. He believes both fighters are evenly matched, and that we could have an electric Hatton vs Tszyu type situation.
Either way, he’s concluded our chat by saying he is expecting fireworks:
”I’m really looking forward to that fight. I think it’s an excellent match up and it might sound obvious but it really will come down to the game plan on the night. It’s not a fight where one man has a lot more in the bag than the other and so just needs to perform. It’s a fight where if one man does well the other’s strong points can negate that if used at the right time. I do favour Carl as I think he has a beautiful understanding of distance on the outside and is a bit more patient inside, but my mind goes back to Hatton vs Tszyu at times, as they are not too dissimilar in their work. I’m not saying they are the exact same, but if Scott sets a pace all hell could break loose. Two excellent men in an excellent fight.”
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