While Matthew Macklin is the star attraction of this weekend’s fight card at the 3 Arena, more evidence was offered at the final pre-fight press conference to suggest that the bitter showdown between Gary ‘Spike’ O’Sullivan and Anthony Fitzgerald will steal the show as their war of words spilled over into a physical altercation, followed by a kiss yesterday.
Macklin meets Argentina’s Jorge Sebastian Heiland in a WBC world-title eliminator in what is expected to be a competitive affair, but the Cork-Dublin undercard battle promises fireworks.
The pair have been engaged in trash talk on social media for years and their face-to-face meetings have been just as colourful as their tweets.
“All the talking’s almost done now and I’m feeling the best I’ve ever felt,” Mahon native O’Sullivan said. “I’ve had the best sparring I’ve ever had ahead of this fight — against Martin Murray, the WBC No 1, Frank Buglioni and [European champion] Billy Joe Saunders.
“Another thing as well is it’s the first time I’ve abstained from sex for six weeks for a fight...”
O’Sullivan’s vow of celibacy provoked laughter among a large crowd present for the pre-fight event at Dublin’s Smock Alley Theatre, leading to an inevitable flurry of abuse from Fitzgerald.
O’Sullivan, who suffered his only pro defeat in 18 bouts to British champion Billy Joe Saunders last July, insinuated that Dubliner Fitzgerald was not as committed to his pre-fight preparations having spent the last few months training at Macklin’s Gym in Marbella.
“I feel that’s going to benefit me,” continued Spike on his recent drought. ‘I’m going to be strong and aggressive for this fight and I think that’s going to be a big advantage. Anthony’s been over in Marbella, he’s a single man, he’s fooling around out there.”
The insinuation clearly irked Fitzgerald, who carries a record of 16 wins and six losses but has previously went the distance against top opposition such as Andy Lee and Hassan N’Dam.
“When I get that eejit I’m going to punch him and bate him from pillar to post. As simple as that, I’m going to kill you,” Fitzgerald told his opponent. ‘I’m going in for a war. I just want to fight, that’s what I’m bred for.”
The 29-year-old Dubliner, an underdog with the bookies, despite coming off the back of two points wins, also took a pop at O’Sullivan’s use of a sports psychologist, with the Cork man having previously worked with Alan Neary, who mentored Steve Collins during his 1990s peak.
“Get rid of that sports psychologist, you gobs**te,” said Fitzgerald. “He’s taking money from you without a balaclava, he’s robbing you. I fear no man.”
A head-to-head photo opportunity between the pair was heated as a smirking O’Sullivan attempted to wind up his opponent by kissing his cheek after being shoved by the Dubliner.
“He’s been beaten half-a-dozen times before and we know how to beat him,” said O’Sullivan.
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