At just 17, Cork’s James Power has become Ireland’s youngest professional with a victory in Tijuana, Mexico last night despite ongoing preparations for his Leaving Cert at Coachford College in Cork. James O'Connor met up with him before he flew out to Mexico.
Q: What made you decide to turn professional at just 17?
A: I have been wanting to go professional since I was young, it’s always been my dream so when the opportunity came I just couldn’t turn it down. A few people mentioned the Olympics to me and that it’s a good experience but the Olympics has never been a goal of mine. It might sound stupid and I know it’s a big achievement but I never wanted to pursue that side of it. All I want to do is pro boxing, that’s it.
Q: Did many people warn you against going professional at such a young age?
A: Everyone has been positive. I’m surrounded by a lot of positive people that all support me so there was no trouble in that regard.
Q: When did you realise your love for boxing?
A: I loved it since the first day I did it. I started boxing when I was nine and that’s all I’ve ever done since. I don’t do much else because boxing has taken over my life. I was always up there with the best. I’ve gone in with the best and anyone will tell you that I can hold my own with the best. I’ve been at a top level from a very young age.
Q: Does the prospect of heading to Tijuana for your first pro fight scare you at all?
A: No I’m excited for it. I just can’t wait to get in the ring. When all the talk is over I just can’t wait to actually be there and fight.
Q: How important is it as a boxer to have the right team around you?
A: It’s everything. It’s the bridge to success for a boxer. I try my best to surround myself with as much positivity as I can and I’m blessed to have a very supportive team. Aaron Cooney, Josh Tannion and Leon Lynch are the owners of Exceed Fitness and they’re like family to me. Declan Geraghty is my trainer and he’s been great to me, as well as Andrew O’Neill who helped me hugely turning pro. A special mention has to go to my family though, they’ve been very supportive throughout my journey. The people of Dripsey have been great too. Everyone is excited because it’s new and it’s something they’ve never experienced before.
Q: What’s your boxing style?
A: I definitely come forward and stay on the front foot. I try to be as exciting as possible and that’s my main goal when I enter the ring. I don’t like watching or being involved in fights that aren’t entertaining, so if I have to work and trade shots in the middle of the ring with a fella, I’ll do it.
Q: What is your most dangerous jab?
A: With every opponent it’s different. You have to be able to switch it up and adapt to the situation. I take it as it comes and try to be versatile to each opponent.
Q: How are you going to juggle the Leaving Cert and pro boxing?
A: We’ll see after I sit the exams I suppose. In fairness, the teachers have been very supportive too. They’ve all told me if there is anything they can do to help me, they will. We’ll manage something along the way anyway. I’ll just take it as it comes.
Q: What’s the weekly routine for an aspiring boxer?
A: Well I’ve school first of all. I train boxing six days a week and go running as much as possible. I also do strength and conditioning in Exceed Fitness around twice a week. A lot of shadow boxing, bag work, pads, and sparring. It’s tough but I’m starting to feel like it’s worth it now.
Q: Growing up did you play any other sports?
A: I played GAA for a while but I quit GAA at around 13 to focus on boxing, this has always been my number one.
Q: Boxing idol as a kid?
A: I can never agree on one boxer. If I answered now and spoke to you a week later I’d have a different answer. I find inspiration and motivation from everyone really. Everyone has a story and you can learn from each individual. I’ve had a lot of idols.
Q: Have you ever been scared in the ring?
A: It’s more in the lead up to fights I would get nervous. Until the point I actually get in the ring the nerves would be going but when the fight starts and I get going I can’t remember ever feeling nervous. You kind of go into auto-pilot and the boxing takes over.
Q: What kind of pre-fight rituals do you have?
A: I just chill out before fights and take in the buzz around the place. Chatting away to my family. I’m not someone who has a set routine before a fight.
Q: You hear some stories of parents not being able to watch their kids fight, is that the case for you?
A: My mum took a break for a while. She used to watch me when I was younger and then went missing for a couple of years. She’s back at ringside now though and I can’t wait to fight in Ireland now and have her there with me. That’s one of my goals as a boxer. To fight in Cork and bring a pro fight to Neptune or some hotel in Cork, just so the people of Cork and everyone who helped me along the way can come and not have to go to Dublin.
Q: Where do you see yourself in five years?
A: I’d definitely like to have a couple of belts and be on top. I’d also love to be fighting on television, that’s a big goal of mine.
But first I’m just trying to get over my fight this weekend. I was in LA during the summer for a boxing holiday and being over there is lethal, I can’t wait. We sparred with Marc Castro, who is a serious operator , so I can’t wait to go over again.”