O'Kane takes his chance
Northern Ireland's Eamonn O'Kane won the Irish Middleweights Prizefighter title with a points victory over JJ McDonagh in the final.
Last Updated: 05/05/12 11:38pm
Northern Ireland's Eamonn O'Kane won the Irish Middleweights Prizefighter title with a points victory over JJ McDonagh in the final at the King's Hall in Belfast.
The 30-year-old Commonwealth Games gold medallist came into the event as the pre-tournament favourite and he justified that status in front of his home fans.
In what was a scrappy final, O'Kane just about deserved the win on the basis of his superior workrate, although in truth neither man landed many clean shots of note.
O'Kane was helped by a points deduction from the reigning 26-year-old Irish super-middleweight champion McDonagh in the final round for a low blow, although he had hardly been squeaky clean himself earlier in the fight.
That wrapped up the verdict, which went O'Kane's way 30-27, 30-26, 29-27 as he took his professional record to 7-0 and claimed the £32,000 winner's cheque.
"I am delighted," O'Kane told Sky Sports. "I was really nervous when I got the phone call, did I want to be in Prizefighter?. And I thought about it for a wee while and I said, 'You know what, that's my style of boxing'.
"It's always risky for a fighter with a 4-0 unbeaten record, not a lot of them enter, but I'm 30 years old and I wanted to fast-track to fighting for titles and I knew this was the way to do it. And I knew this style of boxing suits me down to the ground.
"Each one of those lads were awkward. They were strong, they were durable. It was going to take a big effort to get it done and I'm delighted that I've done it."
In the semi-finals, O'Kane saw off Ryan Greene with a first-round stoppage, ending the 6-0 fighter from Lurgan's winning record in the process.
The fight was marred by a sickening clash of heads which left Greene with blood gushing from his forehead.
He was clearly not recovered from that when O'Kane landed a juddering right hand which sent Greene to the canvas.
He showed little appetite to continue - understandably still shaken by the earlier head clash - and the referee stopped the fight after a count of seven.
The second semi-final was a more cagey affair but McDonagh was a deserved winner in three rounds over Ballymena's Joe Rea, a controlled display of quality boxing earning McDonagh the verdict on all three judges' scorecards 29-28, 30-27, 30-27.