Spike takes next step on road to world title

Irish boxing star Gary ‘Spike’ O’Sullivan is still on target for a world title shot in 2013 — and next month he takes the latest step on that road.

Big-time boxing returns to Leeside on December 15 as WBO international middleweight champion O’Sullivan returns to action for his homecoming bout.

O’Sullivan won the title at Upton Park, London last July and now defends it in front of his home fans at Neptune Stadium in what is being billed ‘The Rebel Rising’.

American veteran Dennis Sharpe is due to be confirmed in the coming days as Spike’s opponent for the fight, with 1,800 tickets going on sale this weekend.

O’Sullivan is delighted to be getting the chance to fight on home turf after a two-year absence.

He was initially due to fight in London against Jamie Cox, the Commonwealth champion, before ‘The Rebel Rising’ promotion in Cork was spawned.

“I was meant to be fighting in London but that didn’t come off so then this door opened,” the Mahon-based fighter.

“I’m delighted to be back fighting in Cork.”

Spike’s trainer, Paschal Collins, is relishing the chance to showcase the hottest talent in Irish boxing.

“Spike’s ranked nine in the world, so we thought it was an opportunity to put on a big show in Cork,” said Collins, brother of Irish boxing great Steve.

“He wanted to fight in Ireland and it could be another two years before he gets the chance to do that. Since Bernard Dunne retired, Irish boxing has had a void to fill. I think Spike can do that. He can attract a lot of support, not just from Cork, but from Dublin too.”

O’Sullivan’s record now stands at 15 wins from 15 fights, with nine by knockout. Ranked No 9 in the world by the WBO, Spike has his eyes on the big prize.

“I’m looking to become world champion in 2013 and I believe I will be,” he declared.

Collins, confirmed there had been tentative talks with the WBO middleweight champion, American Peter Quillin known as ‘Kid Chocolate’

“Peter Quillin’s name has been mentioned, we have been talking. If the offer comes, we will take it. If Spike’s offered a title fight, you might only get offered once, so he’ll take it.”

Spike himself would be up for a transatlantic trip to fight Freddie Roach-trained Quillin: “My ideal fight? I’d love to go to Madison Square Garden and fight Kid Chocolate,” he says.

Joining O’Sullivan on the impressive Rebel Rising bill will be Dublin’s Oisín Fagan against Englishman Chris Goodwin, fighting for the WBF World Lightweight title, and Galway super middleweight Alan Donnellan will have his first fight in Ireland in two years. Dubliner Luke Keeler, also of the Paschal Collins’ stable, will make his professional debut on the night.

At present there are no plans to broadcast the Neptune fight night on Irish television but Frank Warren’s BoxNation network will be reviewing the success of the night with a view to televising the next promotion. Spike O’Sullivan remains part of Warren’s stable but has dispensation to fight under promoter Mike O’Regan for this fight.

O’Regan is the Corkman who brought Mike Tyson to Limerick last month.

Next month O’Regan is bringing Welsh super-middleweight star Joe Calzaghe for two Q&As with fans, at Cork’s Silver Springs Hotel and in Morans Red Cow Hotel in Dublin. In the new year further Q&As will follow with other fight legends including Sugar Ray Leonard and Roberto Duran.

* A limited release of 300 tickets go on sale from Bazzers hairdressers in Cork this morning. All other tickets for the Rebel Rising go on sale nationwide on Monday from 9am, priced at €35, €50 and ringside seats for €90, from www.ticketgroup.ie and from Xtravision outlets nationwide.

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