Gary ‘Spike’ O’Sullivan can back up the trash talk with the best of them — another invaluable asset in the world of professional boxing.
The Mahon middleweight is made for the USA if he comes through his biggest challenge against Chris Eubank Jr tomorrow night live on Sky Sports Box Office. It is a final eliminator for the World Boxing Association (WBA) middleweight championship of the world.
Mention his daughters Jacinta, Katie and Ashley and he is instantly transformed. Gone are the cold, dead eyes that hold only hatred for his opponent. Instead that cold stare of venom is replaced by a warmth and tenderness that only a father can understand.
He told Cork's Evening Echo: “It’s why I fight. It’s why I exist. It’s why I have put my heart and soul into preparing for Chris Eubank Jr, I adore my daughters more than anything in the world.
“Every time I have to dig deep or am in distress, I think of them. My anchors, as my sport psychologist calls them. I want to beat Chris Eubank Jr so badly because it gives me an even bigger chance of providing for my girls. If I become a world champion in the future, I have little interest in flash cars and fast partying.
“If I become a world champion, it means financial stability for my girls’ futures.
“I cannot let Chris Eubank Jr take that future food off the table for me. It’s why the time for talking is over. I will back up all that I have said and I will win. I will win. I will win.” The steely focus is reminiscent of the brother of his trainer Paschal Collins and his idol as a youth, Steve Collins.
In 1995 Chris Eubank Sr, the super-middleweight they thought could not be beaten because of extraordinary ring generalship and incredible toughness, was preparing for an Irishman, who had recently become the World Boxing Organisation’s (WBO) middleweight champion of the world.
Steve Collins was as lightly regarded as his WBO middleweight belt having unexpectedly beaten Chris Pyatt. The WBO was not the powerful organisation in 1995 it is today and having Chris Eubank as its champion at super-middleweight was seen as its way to credibility.
Eubank was in the middle of a multi-fight deal with Sky Sports to take his brand of braggadocio and pomp around Britain and Ireland.
The tough but rusticated style of Steve Collins, who turned up to press conferences in tweed caps and suits straight out of The Quiet Man, was seen as credible fodder having been bested at the top level by The Bodysnatcher Mike McCallum, Reggie Johnson and Sambu Kalambay.
Eubank Sr admitted that the Irishman totally got inside his head as stunt after stunt handed the initiative to Team Collins, including the ruse that he had been hypnotised to be impervious to pain.
It culminated in one of the most incredible nights in Irish sporting history in Milstreet on Saint Patrick’s weekend 1995 when Steve Collins shocked the world by outpointing the Brighton Braggart.
Spike says history is repeating itself with Chris Jr, the Sky Sports darling signed to a mega-fight deal. With one difference.
“Let’s get real — Junior is no legend. What has he done? Nothing. Been handed everything, been living off his name, had the best of schools and gear, been coddled all the way up. I learned the hard way in the halls of Cork boxing clubs where you had to hold your own and punch your way to the top. I didn’t rely on private education and fellas wiping my backside for me.
“Junior knows I have his number and he is spooked. He got on Sky Sports having done nothing of note. I’ve gone to Boston and small arenas in front of only hundreds of fans. I’ve earned it. Sky Sports Box Office is the pinnacle. I believe this is my destiny and will be the propeller for a world title. I’m going to knock Eubank out and will look for Daniel Jacobs or Gennady Golovkin in the near future. He’s not taking it away from me.” The ultimate sporting thrill? A fight in his hometown.
“I believe I am three fights away from a unification fight. I can win all the belts — I’m afraid of no man and I’ll take anyone on.
“I have imagined coming back to Cork and fighting in a redeveloped Páirc Uí Chaoimh in the future. I would join the pantheon of Cork greats like Roy Keane or Sonia O’Sullivan.” The Cork support can be the extra ingredient to get him over the challenge of Chris Eubank Jr tomorrow night.
“I used to pretend to be Roy Keane when I was a youngster playing football. Now there are kids pretending to be Spike. I am very humbled and proud of that. Knowing you have such support back home is amazing.
“It is beyond my wildest dreams to have the people of the greatest city and county in the world in my corner. Chris Eubank Jr is not just fighting Spike O’Sullivan, he is fighting an entire Blood and White Army of Cork people. It is huge motivation for me. No matter what, the people of Cork have been behind me.
“I will be forever grateful for that support. I intend to repay it with a spectacular knockout victory tomorrow night.”
Gary ‘Spike’ O’Sullivan versus Chris Eubank Jr is part of a huge night of boxing on Sky Sports Box Office tomorrow night, live from the O2 Arena in London. Also featuring is the heavyweight grudge match between Anthony Joshua and Dillian Whyte, Olympic gold medallist Luke Campbell, Rocky star Tony Bellew, former world champion Paulie Malignaggi and London’s own Kevin Mitchell.