Irish Olympic boxer and Paulstown native Darren O’Neill was a gues on KCLR’s The Way It Is on Monday of this week.
O’Neill joined presenter Sue Nunn to discuss Katie Taylor’s professional homecoming fight in Dublin’s 3Arena at the weekend where she lost a majority decision to English boxer Chantelle Cameron. Taylor, coming into the fight with an unblemished professional record, was stepping up in weight but found herself bullied early on. As the fight moved into the championship rounds, the Bray native stepped things up a gear but left it too little, too late, as the bout went to the judges’ scorecards.
In the time since Saturday, a rematch has been mooted for the Autumn, possibly as late as October or November, with news this morning also suggesting that a bout with Amanda Serrano will now also not take place. For O’Neill, he was hoping to see something a little different from Taylor’s approach to the fight.
“Katie was on the back foot from the start”, the former European gold-medalist told The Way It Is this week. “I would have liked to have seen her box a little different myself, attack a bit more. I felt she was on the retreat an awful lot from the start and maybe she wasn’t expecting Chantelle (Cameron) to start as quickly – or maybe she was and was trying to ride it out for a few rounds. I think the slow start kind of killed her in the end. She was going to fatigue, she did fatigue, but she fought to the very end and put in a brave performance.”
“There were bits of it (the fight) where she tried to stand and trade and it didn’t suit her. While Katie is very technical, that kind of brawling does sap your energy and you could see she did fatigue very early on. That’s a combination of nerves, a bigger opponent, getting involved in a scrap that’s going to drain your energy. When she did stand up and box like she can, she did very well, but it was too far in between (sic).”
“A lot of people will argue that she won or that it was close, it wasn’t really. For me it was quite a comprehensive victory for Cameron. I think she did win the vast majority of the rounds. She did exactly what she said she was going to do.”
A future not without its challenges
Given some of the difficulties the sport has been facing in recent years, the question was put to O’Neill on whether or not he was optimistic about its future, not only in Ireland.
“I am yeah, The clubs around the country, even the clubs in Kilkenny alone are doing fantastic stuff for kids. For (the) professional, Katie’s after bringing it back to the shore, and hopefully, we can see a little bit more of the professional stuff continuing in Ireland.”
“Within the amateur sense, the clubs are doing fantastic stuff. We have very, very successful boxers all around the county (Kilkenny). Obviously the Olympics are in danger for the minute for boxing, but there’s a world body being set up now to run against the current one. They’re trying to rectify the issues going on from a governance point of view. Time will tell with that, it’s going to be a tough, tough task.”
You can listen to the full interview below.
Hear The Way It Is with Sue Nunn on KCLR, weekdays from 4pm.