Belfast Telegraph

Commonwealth Games star O’Kane gets date for pro bow

By David Kelly

Northern Ireland's golden boy Eamonn O'Kane will make his professional debut on February 12.

O'Kane, who captained the highly successful Northern Ireland boxing team at the Commonwealth Games, has agreed to be managed by Francie McNicholl, father-in-law and adviser to his friend and European light-welterweight champion Paul McCloskey.

While a venue has yet to be confirmed, O'Kane will be on the supporting bill to McCloskey's next defence of the European belt, which is likely to happen in Lavey.

O'Kane has been a fine amateur for many years, dominating the Ulster middleweight title for the best part of a decade and his finest hour came in Delhi in October when he claimed Commonwealth Games gold.

Clearly, the 28-year-old 2008 European bronze medallist believes it is time to leave the vest behind and seek glory in the paid ranks and McNicholl is confident that he can do just that.

“Eamonn's a very dedicated lad, he lives the life that you need too and I'm sure that he'll do very well as a professional,” said McNicholl, who works very closely with Matchroom Promotions with regard to McCloskey's career.

“We haven't terms completely with Matchroom but they have said that Eamonn will make his debut on this bill and Matchroom would be the promoters we are leaning towards.”

Slick mover McCloskey is eagerly anticipating an exciting 2011 with world title ambitions firmly in his sights, according to McNicholl.

Already ranked four in the World Boxing Council's ratings, he may not be far away from a world title eliminator, assuming he makes another successful defence of his EBU title.

Adviser McNicholl added: “Paul's delighted that he is getting back into the ring at the start of the year and we hope that he can push on from here and fight for the world title.

“There's a final eliminator for a shot at the WBC title between Ajose Olusegun and Ali Chebah set for January 6 so we will know a lot more after that fight, it it goes ahead because it was meant to happen in November and didn't.

“Paul is ranked at number four and should keep moving up with another successful European title defence so it's looking like a very exciting year ahead.”

It had been expected that McCloskey would be forced into a mandatory title defence with Italian Giuseppe Lauri but the EBU have allowed the Dungiven man to have another voluntary.

“I think Lauri would rather wait around and hope Paul vacates the title. We're working on an opponent at the moment for Paul and a venue as well because the King's Hall is not available that night.

“But the date is set because that is the date given by Sky television.”

Belfast Telegraph


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