My Greatest Boxing Memory– Gary O’Sullivan: ‘I tried to humiliate him’
The most dangerous fighters have the gentlest handshakes because they have nothing to prove outside the ring – a pertinent metaphor applicable to Gary ‘Spike’ O’Sullivan.
Within the sinister confines of the sweet sciences ropes; O’Sullivan breaths spiteful aggression, a warrior intent on inflicting pain.
Away from his violent profession, O’Sullivan is affable, approachable and humorous.
Spike has accumulated a professional record of 22 wins (15KO’s) with two defeats.
We phoned the Cork pugilist to discuss his greatest boxing memories.
Cast your minds back to 2014 when a vociferously rapturous crowd gathered inside the 3Arena, Dublin to watch middleweights Gary O’Sullivan and home fighter Anthony Fitzgerald settle their bitter feud.
“There was a lot of tension and build up to the fight with Fitzgerald and I managed to knock him out it in one round, being in contention for knockout of the year. That was a good memory of mine,” began Spike.
Was it unsettling entering a cauldron where the majority of the audience were baying for his downfall?
“It was amazing. I like going into people’s backyard, the hostile crowd excites me. The rivalry between ourselves was big over the years; the fight was brewing, he was calling for my name for five years and it was just great to put it to bed.”
As Fitzgerald, who had previously went the distance with Andy Lee and Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam, entered the ring, Spike shoved into him, to the bewilderment of those in attendance and the SKY commentators.
A retaliation for when Fitzgerald pushed O’Sullivan at the pre-fight press conference?
Spike said: “For that particular fight he was saying some bad stuff and really annoying me. The shoulder was to show him and the crowd that I was there to fight and I wasn’t going to be easily bullied or pushed over.”
The ominous bell sounded and Spike took the centre of the ring, holding his hands by his side, and throwing bombs.
What was the game plan?
“Well I knew I would be able to outgun him. He had a good jab and was taller than me and I thought I’d take away the advantage of his reach and wasn’t guna trade jabs with him and I didn’t really fear his power too much. I tried to humiliate him as best I could,” Spike told Fightstore Media.
A booming right uppercut to the chin sent Fitzgerald tumbling to the canvas. 60 seconds into the grudge match and the victor stood over his fallen opponent.
Winning early on was unsurprising, Spike assured me casually, claiming he had replicated knocking Fitzgerald out within three minutes of a sparring session prior to the real thing.
After some emotional celebrations, O’Sullivan consoled the man he had just brutally dispatched.
Spike reflected: “There are no hard feelings today; the fight was over and that was the end of it. It’s always good to show sportsmanship win or lose. When I lost to Billy Joe [Saunders] and [Chris] Eubank I shook the better man’s hand on the night.”
Another indelible career moment was beating Matthew Hall at famous Upton Park in East London to gain the vacant WBO international middleweight title (2012).
Not every boxer can say they earned a belt on their birthday, but O’Sullivan certainly can.
I asked Spike, an avid football fan, his experiences of performing at such a romanticised stadium.
“It was absolutely fantastic. I like West Ham as well and my Grand Uncle grew up around their ground and he was a big West Ham fan and a big friend of mine, we were very close.
“It was very special for me to fight there and on my birthday as well on such short notice and to win my first 12 round fight, and the WBO title, it was brilliant,” he said.
O’Sullivan’s siblings have also provided him with lasting boxing impressions.
“Watching my younger brothers a few years ago when they were boxing and winning national titles; they were fond memories for me,” Spike answered.
“The National Stadium was probably my favourite one seeing my brother become an All-Ireland champion; I loved that, better than winning myself.”
Does he get more anxious witnessing his brothers fight than making that courageous walk to the ring himself?
“Oh way more nervous. Even to this day with my close gym mates, I feel more nervous before their fights than my own because it’s out of your control and there’s nothing you can do about it yourself.
“I remember I was watching Luke Keeler and Tom Doran, my heart almost jumped out of my chest,” laughed the Celtic Warrior competitor.
Source Image: www.eveningecho.ie