Eamonn O’Kane says his loss against John Ryder was ‘the kick up the backside’ he needed as he prepares for his first fight of 2013 against Gary Boulden in Betfair’s ‘Unfinished Business’ at the Odyssey Arena in Belfast on February 9 live on Sky Sports.
O’Kane met Ryder before Christmas in London and the Islington man came out on top, stopping the Dungiven fighter in the eighth round of their exciting middleweight clash.
The 30 year old Betfair Prizefighter champion is aiming to bounce back in Belfast and says that he will show he’s been working hard on new things in the gym ahead of a big year.
“This fight is definitely very important to get myself back into the rankings and back into the mix to do what I want to do,” said O’Kane. “It is very important to get the win. There are a lot of things I am working on and a lot of things I am hopefully going to put in place; you aren’t going to see a dramatic improvement but you are going to see improvements. It is a work in progress and that is what I want to see in my performance.
“It was disappointing but I believe good things have come out of it. I say it has been a good kick in the backside for me. There were a lot of things in the preparation for that fight and that were my own fault.
“I took the fight at short notice, the fight was confirmed 13 days before the fight and in 13 days I had to lose too much weight. I had been ticking over but I hadn’t been training for a ten-round fight. For what was a title eliminator against a quality opponent like John, it was definitely a kick up the backside. I will learn from that.
“The criticism I got from that fight was the same I had been getting from my other fights so we are trying to correct that and it has definitely been an awakening if you want to call it that.”
O’Kane has since switched trainers from Gerry ‘Nugget’ Nugent to Bernardo Checa on the advice of Nugent, and the Dungiven man is confident his critics will see the difference on February 9.
“I had been getting some criticism on the TV from Prizefighter but we sort of ignored it because the game plan was to go out and work hard and put my opponent under as much pressure as possible so I didn’t really concentrate on the technical side of the boxing,” said O’Kane. “We have listened to the critics and we are trying to answer the questions by improving. I know I can box, I have boxed in the amateurs, in the World Series of Boxing, and at times we have been boxing very well but at times I have been careless so I decided to make a change.
“Obviously I was very disappointed after the Ryder loss and I didn’t know where my head was at. It was recommended that rather than me giving up the sport that I make a change. Bernardo Checa is an excellent coach who has a great CV and he is great guy as well. His brother and the team at the gym are good people to be working with, they are working a lot on the technical side of boxing with me and I have a strength and conditioning coach.
“The change is a bit abnormal at first but I still have a good relationship with the people that I was with at the Immaculata Boxing Club – the coach ‘Nugget’ Nugent and boxers like Martin Lindsay and a couple of others – and I still go back there and do a bit of sparring and it is good to have that.
“There has definitely been a change; you are doing different warm-ups, you’re doing a different routine of training, you are within a different set-up, training at different times. It was all a bit abnormal at times and it took a bit of getting used to because I was at the Immaculata for a long time so the change was a bit strange at first but it has definitely been a good change.”
O’Kane’s fight with Boulden is part of a bumper night of action on the Betfair ‘Unfinished Business’ card, topped by the mouth-watering European super bantamweight title clash between Carl Frampton and Kiko Martinez.
Chief support takes the form of September’s postponed British featherweight bout between Martin Lindsay and Lee Selby, middleweight pair Andy Lee and Anthony Fitzgerald meet in a fiery looking ten-rounder and super flyweight contender Jamie Conlan boxes for the ninth time as a pro.
Martin Rogan boxes in a four-round heavyweight bout ahead of his appearance in the Betfair Prizefighter International Heavyweights III on February 23 at York Hall, Bethnal Green, and there are also outings for Grzegorz Proksa, Callum Smith against Tommy Tolan, Daniel McShane, Tony Nellins and Marco McCullough.
Tickets for Betfair’s ‘Unfinished Business’ featuring Carl Frampton vs. Kiko Martinez at the Odyssey Arena on Saturday February 9 are on sale now. Floor and tiered seats are on sale from the Odyssey Arena website www.odysseyarena.com priced £30, £40 and £60, while Ringside tickets at £100 and Inner-Ringside VIP tickets at £150 are both available from Matchroom Boxing’s website www.matchroomboxing.com.