Kevin O’Hara says he is “proud and honoured” to be headlining the first professional boxing show at the Belfast City Hall, which is also a fundraising event for the Oscar Knox appeal.
Belfast man O’Hara will face Dubliner Noel O’Brien for the vacant Irish light-welterweight title on May 14 with all profits from the ‘Fearless’ show going to help four-year-old Oscar whose battle against cancer has captured the hearts of the country.
Oscar was at the City Hall along with dad Stephen to announce the show being staged by promoters Chris Graham and Hughes Leisure, which will also feature Shankill Road featherweight prospect Marc McCullough as well as Belfast’s Ray Ginley, Joe Hillerby and Toome debutant Jamie Kennedy.
Former British and Commonwealth super-featherweight title challenger O’Hara will be boxing for the first time in three years come fight night but the 30-year-old is adamant that he is determined to return to major championship contention.
Moving up to light-welterweight for the full-time bricklayer is a means to an end as he seeks to revive his ring fortunes.
O’Hara said: “When I was asked about the fight I said yes right away, I didn’t even ask about the money because this isn’t just an ordinary fight, this is about helping this young lad who is going to be the real warrior at the City Hall on May 14.
“Everyone knows Oscar’s story and the fight he has on his hands so for myself and the rest of the lads to be able to play our part in helping him is an honour.
“I have a four-year-old boy of my own, Lewis, and he is able to do whatever he wants and like every parent I spoil him, so it means a lot that I can help Oscar’s parents.
“And of course I’m proud to be the one who is top of the bill for the first professional show to be staged at the City Hall and hopefully there can be more after this.
“The only Irish title I could have boxed for was the light-welterweight title, it was the only one vacant. It’s a big step up from super-feather but I’ll never make that again, I’ll be dropping down to lightweight after I win this title.
“I’m not taking anything for granted, this is a big fight for O’Brien and because I have been out of the ring for a while I know there’s going to be some ring rust to shake off.”
Chris Hughes of Hughes Leisure said: “This is a special night of boxing and all the profits will be going to the Oscar Knox appeal and the boxers are taking nominal purse money to make this event possible.
“We believe that this is going to be the fastest-selling boxing event ever here. That’s a big statement but the interest in tickets is incredible and because it’s in the City Hall we only have 550 places.”
Oscar’s dad Stephen is delighted that the event has come together after eight weeks of hard work and believes that a boxing show is an ideal way of highlighting the battle that Oscar is currently engaged in.
Stephen said: “The word fight means a lot to people and for the past 18 months it has meant everything to us. After all there can be no greater fight than the fight for life.
“We’ve watched our wee Oscar battle many obstacles and all we can do is support him.
“We feel that in some way we can relate to the toughest fight of all, boxing, and coupled with Oscar’s love of boxing and his hero being Paddy Barnes has driven us to showcase this historic event. Oscar’s battle has united people here.”
Tickets are priced at £30, £50 and £75.