Tag: Danny Connor
Danny Connor: Don’t Be Surprised If I Stop Evangelou This Time.
This coming Saturday Southern Area Light Welterweight Champion Danny ‘Cassius’ Connor defends his coveted crown at the Matchroom Sport promoted ‘Betfair London’s Finest’ event at the Wembley Arena.
Connor is very much the modern ‘Cinderella Man’ on the domestic boxing scene, having lost four out of his first five fights, drawing the other, before turning his career around in May 2011, with a close fought victory over Duane Grimes at York Hall in London. A turnaround the Hackbridge, Surrey man puts a hundred percent down to his coach, Alec Wilkey, and the World class sparring at his home gym, the TRAD TKO Boxing Gym in Canning Town.
Since that career changing win, Connor has won six out of seven bouts, including winning both the British Masters Welterweight title, by a close 96-95 points victory over Tyler Goodjohn. Then four months later causing a major upset, with the sensational against the odds victory over previously unbeaten Chris ‘The Flash Evangelou, for the Southern Area strap, by a resounding 98-94 points margin.
Connor’s opponent on Saturday night will once again be the aforementioned Chris ‘The Flash’ Evangelou, something that clearly pleases Connor, who responded to comments from the Evangelou camp saying.
“I’ve not much to say really, I won the first fight, won it by four rounds.
I thought I’d won the fight pretty handily so I don’t see what he has to complain about.
This time around it’ll be pretty much the same thing, but I’m a lot more fitter this time, a lot more healthier than I was last time so don’t be surprised If I don’t go for a stoppage this time, we’ll see what happens.
Been doing a lot of sparring, you get the best sparring here at the TRAD TKO, been sparring with Darren Hamilton, Billy Morgan, Tommy Martin, done a few rounds with Anthony Upton and a few of the other new boys up here.
As I said you get the best sparring up here so there’s nothing that he’s going to have in his locker to have the upper hand on me.
I’m going to retain the Southern Area title on Saturday, after that I have been told that I might have a spot in Prizefighter.
I’m also considering moving to Lightweight, if I win a title at Lightweight then I’ll have a title at Lightweight, Light Welterweight and Welterweight, which would be nice, wouldn’t it.
To my fans, thank you for your awesome support.
To everyone else, if you haven’t got tickets or can’t get there on the night make sure you watch it on Sky as I’m going to smash him to pieces.”
Tickets, priced £40, £60 and £80, for the Matchroom Sport promoted ‘Betfair London’s Finest at Wembley Arena on Saturday 9th March, are on sale now at www.tkoboxoffice.com or direct from Danny Connor at the TRAD TKO Boxing Gym, Gillian House, Stephenson Street, Canning Town, London E16 4SA.
‘The Saint’ to box on March 9 Wembley show and on Froch vs. Kessler undercard
George Groves has signed a promotional deal with Matchroom Boxing.
The unbeaten Commonwealth super middleweight star will box for the first time under his new promoter Eddie Hearn on the Betfair ‘London’s Finest’ bill at the Wembley Arena on London, live on Sky Sports.
Groves is also the first fighter to be confirmed for the undercard of the huge Sky Box Office clash between Carl Froch and Mikkel Kessler in ‘Warrior’s Call’ in association with Betfair at the O2 Arena in London on May 25.
The 24 year olds biggest win came on a Sky Box Office bill at the O2 when he saw off bitter rival James DeGale in May 2011, and the Hammersmith talent has since destroyed Paul Smith in two rounds, travelled to America to deposit Francisco Sierra in six and heavily outpointed Glen Johnson in east London.
Groves will now seek a path to World title glory under Hearn and the popular Londoner is excited at the next stage of his career.
“It’s a very exciting opportunity for me,” said Groves, who faces Argentine Dario German Balmaceda over ten rounds on Saturday, the second live fight on Sky Sports. “I’ve known Eddie for quite a while now, he’s doing great things promotionally and I’m excited to be a part of it.
“It’s great to be boxing in London and Wembley is a great Arena to box in so I’m really excited about getting in there on Saturday. I’ve had three fights in 18 months which is not ideal so it will be great for me to get out regularly, I’m healthy, I’m training hard and Eddie has promised to keep me busy so everything is looking good and I’m raring to get back into action.”
Groves’ chief-support slot on the Froch vs. Kessler bill will land just over two years since he beat DeGale in an enthralling contest and Groves expects to be in a huge fight on May 25, and is targeting the winner of Arthur Abraham vs. Robert Stieglitz, as well as holding more than a passing interest on the main event at the O2.
“It is massive worldwide exposure for me and a step in the right direction,” said Groves. “I’m at that level now where I’m knocking on the door for World titles and working with Matchroom and being on Sky Sports should help me get closer to that dream. I expect that will be a big fight as chief-support to the main event. I’ve had to give up my spot as the mandatory for the European title but hopefully that door isn’t shut and it’s still a possible route, but I’m well ranked in the governing bodies and I want to fight for a World title.
“I’m ranked number one with the WBO and Abraham vs. Stieglitz and fight for that in a few weeks so I’ll be keeping a keen eye on that and I’ll have just as close an eye on the Froch vs. Kessler fight as I really believe I could get a crack at the winner and I think Eddie knows I want that fight so it ties in nicely.
“The DeGale fight was the best atmosphere I’ve ever boxed in and I have still got loads of friends and family and the guy on the street that still talk to me about that night and say it was the best atmosphere they’ve ever experienced. I imagine that the way that the tickets have sold and with all the hype that will build closer to the fight that Froch vs. Kessler that we’ll experience similar things. Obviously those two have a much healthier relationship than I did with DeGale but it will be incredibly exciting and great to be back at the O2 Arena and in a massive fight.”
Hearn added: “I am delighted to welcome George to the Matchroom stable. He’s a tremendous talent and a real star in the super middleweight division – not just in the future but today. His debut for us on Saturday is a great addition to an already top class bill, and he’ll play a huge part in the Froch vs. Kessler night on May 25.”
Tickets for Betfair’s ‘London’s Finest’ are on sale now priced£40, £60 and £80 from the www.tkoboxoffice.com – tel: 07960 850645
Ochieng In Confident Mood, Ahead Of Carruthers March 9th Test
English Light Middleweight Champion Erick ‘The Eagle’ Ochieng makes the fourth defense of his crown, against the highly experienced Terry Carruthers from Birmingham, at the Matchroom Sport promoted ‘Betfair London’s Finest’ event, which takes place at Wembley Arena on Saturday, the 9th March.
Ochieng, who has proved beyond doubt that he is fast becoming the dominant force within the domestic Light Middle scene, having dispatched the likes of Andrew Lowe, Ryan Toms and Max Maxwell since beating Nick Quigley to lift the vacant title back in January last year, firmly believes that it’s time to move on, to either challenge for the British or Commonwealth crown.
“Yeah, the fight is going to be on the 9th March and it’s going to be a good fight, because it’s against Terry Carruthers,” said the 25 year old from Stoke Newington.
“He’s a tough, ugly fighter so I’m gonna come out and look pretty.
Preparation has been going well and we’re looking for another win and then on to bigger things, which will be the British or the Commonwealth, that’s what we are looking for at the minute.
I promise before this year ends you’ll be looking at the British or Commonwealth Champion, without doubt.
I want to give a big shout out to all my fans and sponsors, Addison Lee, Glenn Insurance. I want the ‘Eagle’ crowd to come out in force, because the fight’s going to be a great fight.
Not just my fight, but they’ll be other great fights at ‘Betfair London’s Finest’ and it’s gonna be a great night of action. TRAD TKO’s Danny Connor defends his Southern Area against Chris Evangelou, my team mate and another of the TRAD TKO crew, Wadi Camacho takes on China White for the English Cruiserweight title, Darren Barker and Lee Purdy also fighting for titles.
‘Eagle’, ‘Eagle’, ‘Eagle’ oh and I’m gonna be coming in to my track, Erick The Eagle, yep that’s what I am going to be entering the ring with.”
Tickets, priced £40, £60 and £80, for the Matchroom Sport promoted ‘Betfair London’s Finest at Wembley Arena on Saturday 9th March, are on sale now at www.tkoboxoffice.com or direct from Erick Ochieng at the TRAD TKO Boxing Gym, Gillian House, Stephenson Street, Canning Town, London E16 4SA.
‘Dazzling’ to face Simone Rotolo for vacant IBF Inter-Continental middleweight title on March 9
Darren Barker will fight Italian champion Simone Rotolo for the vacant IBF Inter-Continental middleweight title at the top of the bill of Betfair’s ‘London’s Finest’ show at Wembley Arena on March 9, live on Sky Sports.
Rotolo (35-3), who hasn’t tasted defeat since a 2007 European title fight against former World champion German Sebastian Sylvester, was due to face Barker at Alexandra Palace in September before injury forced the Barnet-born boxer to withdraw.
Barker, who became engaged after proposing to girlfriend Gemma Kao at Wembley Stadium earlier in the week, has recently returned from a training camp in Spain and says he is ready for the difficult task Rotolo will present him as he works towards World title contention.
“I have watched him,” said the 30 year old. “I suppose there is a sense, a little bit, of unfinished business as well where I had to pull out of the September fight so it will be good to get in there and put this one behind me, put on a good performance and really crack on.
“He is experienced, he has had 30-odd fights, he is in his late 30s so he knows his way around the ring. He will be looking to make things difficult.
“I think he likes to do a lot of his work off the back foot so he is tough and experienced but I have a good bit of momentum behind me at the moment, I am injury free and really looking forward to putting on a good show.
“I am feeling really good, I am in fantastic shape and I had a good training camp out in Spain. I am where I want to be, if not slightly in front.
“[Spain] was a lot of hard work, it was some real graft. We have a fantastic team spirit at our gym, it is almost like a football club if you like, and if anyone has the hump we pull each other through. It was a good camp but tough.”
Barker’s title fight is supported by a mouth-watering clash between Lee Purdy and Carson Jones, Erick Ochieng’s English light middleweight title defence against Prizefighter star Terry Carruthers and an English title shot for cruiserweight Wadi Camacho against unbeaten China Clark.
There are Southern Area title bouts for Ryan Taylor against Liam Shinkwin at lightweight and Chris Evangelou in a rematch of the tasty light welterweight title fight edged by Danny Connor when the pair clashed in September. Unbeaten Islington middleweight John Ryder and former Team GB star Martin J. Ward are also in action in fights to be announced soon.
Tickets for Betfair’s ‘London’s Finest’ are on sale now priced £40, £60 and £80 at www.tkoboxoffice.com – tel: 07960 850645
Malta’s newest Champion, ‘Super’ Steve Martin is seething, just a couple of days after he won the WBU Light Welterweight International title, with a sensational fifth round stoppage of Germany’s Sabri Ulas Goecmen, that Great Britain’s Danny ‘Cassius’ Connor publicly called him out.
Following Connor’s provocative statement hitting the boxing and sports news websites around the World, Connor’s Facebook page was inundated with ‘strongly worded’ messages from Martin’s irate fans, whilst Martin’s overflowed with messages of support.
Thing’s then got a little more heated as Martin and Connor, who is the current British Masters Welterweight and BBBofC Southern Area Light Welterweight Champion, exchanged insults on the social media network.
Even though it is the Season of Goodwill to All, for some reason I don’t think Connor is going to receive any gifts or seasonal greetings from Martin, whose anger hasn’t subsided one iota, as is clear by the barbed statement the twenty five year old from Pieta made earlier today.
“Bring it on Connor, I love to shut big mouths like yours, that are only good for trash talking.
I’ll fight you in the ring, outside the ring, f**k even in one of those poxy phone boxes, you Brits like so much.
You say you’ll come to my lovely Island to take what’s mine, I just hope you can walk the walk, ‘cause after all the crap you’ve spouted, I’m gonna beat you up so bad that you’re gonna leave my BACKYARD in a body bag.
So if you don’t have the balls to back it up, do us all a favour ‘Bruv’, shut the f**k up.”
British Masters Welterweight and Southern Area Light Welterweight Champion Danny ‘Cassius’ Connor has his eyes on an even bigger prize in the New Year, Steve Martin’s newly won WBU Light Welterweight International Title.
Hackbridge, Surrey’s Connor has had a magnificent year on the Championship trail. His first big scalp of the year was that of Ely, Cambs’ exciting young prospect Tyler Goodjohn, who he beat by a single point in a storming, all action British Masters Welterweight Title Battle Royale at York Hall back in May.
His second was even bigger, Eddie Hearn’s then unbeaten star, Enfield’s Chris ‘The Flash’ Evangelou, for the vacant BBBofC Southern Area strap at Hearn’s Matchroom Sport promoted mega event at Alexandra Palace in September.
Connor now wants to move on from the domestic to the International scene and the challenge to Pieta, Malta’s Steve Martin seems to be a logical move.
Martin, who won the coveted belt last Friday with a fifth round stoppage over German hard man Sabri Ulas Goecmen, is far less experienced than Connor, having only fought seven times previously to the Surrey man’s thirteen outings.
Following another grueling training session, at the TRAD TKO Boxing Gym in the heart of London’s East End, a clearly irked Connor spoke of his intention to rip the belt from the grip of Martin.
“I want to get it out there that Steve Martin from Malta is a fraud, he’s fought no one and I want to go over there and smash him up and take his title.
If he’s a man, he should accept my challenge. I’m not even saying I’ll fight him over here, I’ll come to his back yard and bash him up.
So if you’re a man Steve let’s get it on, let’s do this, I’ll come to your back yard and I’ll smash you up in front of all your mates, whatya say bruv.”
Brilliant Barker targets 2013 World title – Londoner aims for huge fights next year after Hope demolition
Darren Barker reignited his World title ambitions with a brutal four round demolition job on Kerry Hope in the Betfair ‘Christmas Cracker’ at the London Olympia on Saturday night (December 8).
Barker was boxing for the first time in 14 months since bravely challenging Sergio Martinez in Atlantic City and against fellow former European champion Hope he dispelled any question that his time out had diminished his talents as he unveiled a spiteful punching Darren Barker to compliment his trademark style and technical ability.
Barker felt his way into the contest in the opening round and sharpened up in the second as the confidence flowed into his gloves and he stepped on the gas in the third round, picking off the Welshman with some real punishment.
The Londoner continued his assault in the fourth round and did so with clinical brutality. A right uppercut was followed by a vicious right hook that floored Hope. The Merthyr Tydfil southpaw gamely beat the count but as Barker resumed his assault, Hope’s trainer Gary Lockett pulled his man out of the firing line – leaving Barker to look forward to a year full of potentially huge fights.
“I missed hearing my name and it’s fantastic to be back, it was enjoyable,” said Barker. “I wasn’t that nervous as the preparation for tonight was fantastic, I just thoroughly enjoyed it.
“Kerry deserves respect as he’s a former European champion, and I dismantled him over four rounds so that’s important to me and it proves to me that I belong at the highest level.
“If I had lost tonight or put in a bad performance, I would’ve called it a day, 100 per cent, because you cannot mess about in this sport. You have to do it properly and that performance has given me a lot of encouragement.
“I think I have another three or four years in the game and I want the big fights, to test myself against the World level operators. I’ve tasted that World level and I want to get back up there. I badly want to fight Martin Murray and Matthew Macklin and I am sure they want the fights too because they are fantastic fighters and great fights the fans want.
“There were a lot of frustrations coming out of me in there, not just for me but also for Eddie Hearn and Tony Sims and all the people who have stood by me through all of the injuries. I want to pay them all back with big fights and big wins.”
Barker’s gym mate John Ryder claimed the biggest win of his career as he stopped fellow unbeaten middleweight Eamonn O’Kane in the eighth round of their British middleweight title eliminator.
Kal Yafai’s impressive start to his professional career continued as he took just three rounds to defeat Spanish bantamweight champion Jorge Perez – Yafai will step-up again on January 19 when he headlines a fight night in Wolverhampton.
Erick Ochieng can expect some big fights in 2013 after he successfully defended his English light middleweight title with a wide points win over Max Maxwell.
Ex-Team GB stars Martin J. Ward and Callum Smith gained wins in four-round contests, Wadi Camacho earned a stoppage win after an entertaining seven rounds against Hari Miles and Andreas Evangelou saw off Danny Couzens in a six round contest. American Carson Jones was due to face Lee Purdy at the top of the bill but illness ruled Purdy out and late replacement Dean Byrne left London with a well-earned draw from their eight round fight.
Chloe Sims lands role as Ring Card girl at London Olympia
Darren Barker makes his long-awaited return to the ring tomorrow night when he tops the bill at Betfair’s ‘Christmas Cracker’ live on Sky Sports HD1 from the London Olympia.
The Barnet boxer has been beset by injury problems following his gallant World middleweight title challenge against Sergio Martinez in October 2011 and a partisan crowd will be looking to cheer him all the way to victory. Betfair punters have certainly been getting right behind the Londoner, with odds of 1-10 on a Barker win and 8-11 for the KO.
With ‘Dazzling’ Darren hoping to set Olympia alight with a show of force against opponent Kerry Hope, TOWIE star Chloe Sims will add a touch of glamour to the proceedings by becoming a ring card girl for the night. This week Chloe launched the first ever live odds boards for Betfair; these will be displayed in the ring between rounds to show the live Betfair In-Play prices. The move enables fans and viewers at home to keep track of the odds and place their bets as the markets react to every jab, body shot and uppercut.
TOWIE favourite Chloe said: “I’m excited to be part of the show on Saturday and I can’t wait to get into the ring on Saturday night, the atmosphere is going to be electric. My family and I love boxing and we’re going to be there backing Darren to win.”
Betfair’s Alex Bake added: “Chloe has the perfect mix of glamour and a love of boxing which makes her a great choice to launch our new Live Odds boards.
“These boards will enhance the betting experience for boxing fans who can keep on top of the markets throughout the night and make sure they’ve placed the best bet.”
Barker’s comeback and the showdown between unbeaten middleweights John Ryder and Eamonn O’Kane provide a mouth-watering backdrop to the launch of this innovative technology. And with a packed undercard featuring some of the very best of British talent, fans look set for a treat at London Olympia tomorrow night.
For the latest odds with Betfair, click here: http://sports.betfair.com/boxing/event?id=26919445
Selected weights from today’s weigh-in:
Darren Barker: 11st 8 ¾ lbs vs. Kerry Hope: 11st 7 ½ lbs
Erick Ochieng: 10st 13 ¾ lbs vs. Max Maxwell: 10st 13 ½ lbs
John Ryder: 11st 6lbs vs. Eamonn O’Kane: 11st 5 ½ lbs
Carson Jones: 10st 11 ½ lbs vs. Dean Byrne 10st 10lbs
Provisional running-order (subject to change)
5.40pm 4 x 3 mins Super-Middleweight Contest
CALLUM SMITH v JAMES TUCKER
6pm 4 x 3 mins Lightweight Contest
MARTIN J. WARD v DOUGIE CURRAN
6.20pm 8 x 3 mins Welterweight Contest
CARSON JONES v DEAN BYRNE
7.05pm 10 x 3 mins English Light-Middleweight Title Contest
ERICK OCHIENG v MAX MAXWELL
(Stoke Newington) (Birmingham)
Live on Sky Sports 8pm
8 x 3 mins Bantamweight Contest
KAL YAFAL v JORGE PEREZ
10 x 3 mins Eliminator for British Middleweight Championship
JOHN RYDER v EAMONN O’KANE
12 x 3 mins Vacant IBF Inter-Continental Super-Middleweight Contest
DARREN BARKER v KERRY HOPE
(Barnet) (Merthyr Tydfil)
To be scheduled
4 x 3 mins Welterweight Contest
DALE EVANS v KEVIN McCAULEY
8 x 3 mins Cruiserweight Contest
WADI CAMACHO v HARI MILES
(Canning Town) (Blackwood)
4 x 3 mins Light-Heavyweight
ANDREAS EVANGELOU v DANNY COUZENS
(Wood Green) (Southampton)
Yafai fires warning to bantamweight rivals – Kal gunning for titles ahead of date with Spanish champion
High-flying bantamweight Kal Yafai meets the Spanish champion Jorge Perez in Betfair’s ‘Christmas Cracker’ at the London Olympia live on Sky Sports on Saturday (December 8) and he has fired a warning to his domestic rivals – I’m coming for you in 2013.
Yafai has raced to 5-0 in his first six months in the pro ranks and has earned rave reviews with four stoppage wins from his first five clashes, the last one coming in just 52 seconds live on Sky Sports against rated Italian Pio Nettuno on the Carl Froch vs. Yusaf Mack undercard.
Promoter Eddie Hearn has spoken of the difficulties in matching the Birmingham talent and steps him up in class again on Saturday against Perez – but Yafai is adamant he can live up to expectations.
“That is the thing; everyone is expecting me to get people out of there early now,” said Yafai. “I just get on and do what I do, think about winning round by round and if the knockout comes it comes.
“I have surprised myself a little bit. I thought it would be a lot tougher, a lot harder to adapt to the pro ranks. But I have taken to it really well and I am really enjoying it and I think that is one of the most important things because when you enjoy it you perform.
“It was an early finish in Nottingham but it was another win, another knockout and it came with a good body shot.
“I didn’t expect it to finish so early. I had watched him on YouTube and things like that and I expected it to go a bit longer than it did. It was a perfectly-placed body shot that got him out of there.
“I would like to get some more rounds in and hopefully I will get some more in on Saturday. It isn’t a big problem that I am not getting lots of rounds in because I train really hard, I spar with top-class fighters up to lightweights and light welterweights, so I am sparring big fighters, strong fighters and technically very sound fighters. Two weeks before the fight I was training Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday eight rounds each day and it has been great.”
Perez won the Spanish title in October against Ivan Pozo, who lost to Jamie McDonnell for the European title in March, and with a WBO European title loss against Ali Hallab in May also on his record from his 16 fights, the 28 year old represents another step up for Yafai.
“I said to Eddie that I will fight anybody, I think that is the way fighters are,” said Yafai. “If he gives me a name I will jump at it. If he gave me a British or European champion now I would jump at the chance. Eddie knows what he is doing with me and I leave it down to him. I just do the training and get in there and deliver the goods on the night.
“I watched him fight against a guy I know called Ali Hallab. He looked good, he put Hallab down early in the fight which shows he can hit a bit but he ended up being knocked out with a left to the body and when I saw that I thought ‘well that’s an opening there’.”
After turning pro in stellar amateur career that took in the 2008 Beijing Olympics among multiple titles wearing head guard and vest, Yafai believes he has mixed with top class opposition already is targeting title shots next year.
“I am not here to mess about and wait around,” said Yafai. “I have the pedigree, I am fighting these fighters and getting them out really quickly so the quicker I can step up the better. The better the opponent, the better performance people will see out of me because I get to show people a lot more of what I am capable of doing.
“Hopefully there will be some sort of title fight early next year. Whether it is an Area or an English title, I will take anything that comes my way.”
If Yafai can move to 6-0 with another stoppage win on Saturday he will end a topsy-turvy year on a real high. He was tipped to succeed at the 2012 Olympic Games in London but lost out on a place in the squad in a box-off against Andrew Selby. That disappointment gave way to excitement at turning pro, and with a headline-fight lined up in Wolverhampton in January, 2013 promises to be a huge year for Yafai.
“Last November I was in a bad way because I had missed out on the Olympics which I had spent four years training hard for,” said Yafai. “I managed to pick myself up and turned over and I have had a really good start and now I am just really excited about the future. From when I turned pro to now has been brilliant. It has been a lot of hard work but I have got out what I have put in and I want to continue that into next year now.”
Yafai’s fight with Perez is part of a fantastic line-up of British talent in London with Darren Barker’s return to action against fellow former European middleweight champion Kerry Hope topping the bill. John Ryder faces a crunch middleweight test against fellow unbeaten fighter Eamonn O’Kane in an eliminator for the British title whole Erick Ochieng defends his English light middleweight title against British title challenger Max Maxwell, and unbeaten cruiserweight Wadi Camacho faces Toks Owoh for the vacant Southern Area strap. American welterweight star Carson Jones faces Dean Byrne in an eight rounder and impressive young former Team GB stars Martin J. Ward and Callum Smith continue their pro education.
Tickets for Betfair’s ‘Christmas Cracker’ are on sale now priced £40 unreserved, £60 corner ringside, £80 ringside and £150 VIP. Tickets are available from TKO Box Office – www.tkoboxoffice.com – Tel: 07960 850645
Ryder and O’Kane playing ‘risk-reward’ on Saturday night
Middleweight duo sacrifice unbeaten records for a British title shot in 2013
Unbeaten middleweight duo John Ryder and Eamonn O’Kane are ready to sacrifice their ‘0s’ for a shot at title glory as they clash in a British title eliminator in Betfair’s ‘Christmas Cracker’ at the London Olympia, live on Sky Sports HD on Saturday night (December 8).
The victor out of Ryder (12-0) and O’Kane (8-0) can expect a shot at the title in 2013, which Billy Joe Saunders and Nick Blackwell box for next weekend, with the loser having to rebuild at the beginning of the year.
“It is a British title eliminator so hopefully it will put me in line for a final eliminator and then maybe a shot at the British champion,” said Ryder. “I am not going to get too far ahead of myself; Eamonn is a big, dangerous opponent so I have to get through him first. I am not taking it for granted; it is a two-horse race on Saturday so we are both there to win.
“It is a good match, a good 50-50 fight and I am sure it is one the fans will be excited to see on Sky Sports as it’s the ultimate risk-reward fight for both of us. He is a good, tough opponent with a lot of experience. He is 30 years old so he has been around the game for a long time, albeit as an amateur so I am expecting a good, hard fight.
“I have known he is about and he has called me out a couple of times on Twitter. It is a fight I didn’t expect to happen straight away but it is here now so I will take the bull by the horns.
“It is definitely my biggest test yet, by far. Eamonn is a livewire, he is 8-0, he is in this business, he is 30 now and he has to start getting a move on
“I haven’t seen too many of his fights. I saw him in the Prizefighter in Belfast, which he won, and his fight against Wayne Reed in Sheffield but I hadn’t seen too much of him before I started getting my research done for Saturday.
“He might be 30 but he is a young 30, he has not been in many hard fights, he has had a brilliant amateur career and I expect a nice, live opponent. I have to be sensible, I have to box clever and not get involved in a fight. Eamonn looks big and strong so I will have to use my advantages against his.”
O’Kane jumped to the front of the queue in the middleweight division with a dominant performance in the Betfair All-Irish Prizefighter Middleweights in May. A solid win over the dangerous Terry Carruthers followed in September, and the Commonwealth Games Gold medallist sees Saturday’s fight as a huge opportunity.
“He’s in the same sort of position as I am,” said O’Kane. “He’s 12-0 and he’s looking to make that next step up to British title level and winning titles and honours so it definitely should be a good fight.
“It is going to be a tough fight for me and it is going to be a tough fight for John so it is going to be a great watch for the fans. I obviously have a game plan that I intend to bring to the fight and I am sure he will be looking to do the same. It is definitely an even fight so it will be interesting.
“I have seen John fight on some of the Matchroom shows and clips of him on Ringside. I was on the same bill as him when I fought Wayne Reed in Sheffield in July. He is definitely a talent and he has my respect. I have been training hard for Saturday and I know how stiff a challenge it is going to be but I am very confident in my capabilities and I think my pedigree in the amateurs and my professional fights so far will stand me in good stead to win this fight.
“We both could have taken easier fights. It is a risk for both of us but the benefits outweigh the risks. For me, that is the way it is.”
“Some people choose easier routes but it is good on his part and on mine that we have made this fight. I wanted to fight and this was a chance to get a good fight before Christmas. It could lead to a final eliminator for a British title so I want to win on Saturday and then move onwards and upwards.
“He’s a talented lad. He goes about his business quietly. He has an unorthodox style, a southpaw stance. He likes to hunch his shoulders and throws a few flashy shots.
“It is a great opportunity. It’s certainly not ideal circumstances because you would like three months to prepare but sometimes you just have to grab your chance and that’s what I’m going to do.”
Ryder’s clash with O’Kane is part of a fantastic line-up of British talent in London with Darren Barker’s return to action against fellow former European middleweight champion Kerry Hope topping the bill. Erick Ochieng defends his English light middleweight title against British title challenger Max Maxwell, while unbeaten cruiserweight Wadi Camacho faces Toks Owoh for the vacant Southern Area strap. Exciting bantamweight star Kal Yafai faces Spanish champion Jorge Perez and impressive young former Team GB stars Martin J. Ward and Callum Smith continue their pro education.
Tickets for Betfair’s ‘Christmas Cracker’ are on sale now priced £40 unreserved, £60 corner ringside, £80 ringside and £150 VIP. Tickets are available from www.tkoboxoffice.com – Tel: 07960 850645