Q: Why did you choose the hard life of professional boxing?
A: I was born into it. My father was a fighter. All my brothers and myself were national champions as amateurs. My father had us all fighting, there wasn’t really a choice. It’s in the blood — you could say fighting chose me.
Q: Can you remember the first time you threw a punch in anger?
A: Oh my God, we were constantly fighting. We lived in a neighbourhood down in Mahon, loads of us in the council area growing up together. I was three when we moved in there and growing up, we seemed to be fighting every week. If it wasn’t me, it was one of my brothers, and I’d have to help out. It was a weekly thing.
Q: Who was your idol growing up?
A: Evander Holyfield was always my favourite. He could box, he could fight, he had it all and he knocked out Mike Tyson. I predicted he’d beat Tyson, it was my first ever time in the bookmakers and my dad gave me about five quid. I wanted to place the bet but everyone was saying ‘you’re crazy, he’s never going to beat Tyson’. I couldn’t bet legally because of my age but I got my dad to put the fiver on. Who knows what I did with the winnings, probably bought a load of sweets.
Q: Boston is Marvin Hagler territory. As a middleweight yourself is he someone you admire?
A: He’s my mother’s idol. A lot of people refer to me as the white Marvin Hagler, I’ve been hearing that around Boston quite a lot. It’s quite a compliment. I loved the ‘WAR’ hats he used to wear, I’ve had it on my shorts myself. They love Hagler around here.
Q: You count your win over Dublin’s Anthony Fitzgerald in last November’s grudge match as your career highlight. What made it so special?
A: There was a big rivalry there, it was in Dublin which was his backyard and I went there and knocked him out. I knocked out Robbie Long there too when I defended my Irish title in 2011. Him and Fitzgerald are Dublin’s best two middleweights and there is a big rivalry between Cork and Dublin and I went into their backyard twice and knocked them both out in the first round.
Q: Do you thrive when you travel to someone else’s territory to fight?
A: Absolutely yes. I love going away where the odds are stacked against me. My ultimate dream is to go to Kazakhstan and fight Gennady Golovkin. That’s what I would love the most. I like travelling away, the more the odds are against me, the better I feel.
Q: Golovkin has been hailed as the most destructive fighter of the generation. He’s had 20 knockouts in a row. People might say you’re crazy for wanting to fight him?
A: That’s actually sort of why I want to do it. Anyone my size cannot possibly hit harder than me. He’s the same size as me and everybody’s human. Nobody thought Buster Douglas was going to knock out Tyson. Golovkin doesn’t have a steel neck, he’s there to be hit and if I hit you, then that’s it, goodnight.
Q: Do you think people are beaten before they step in the ring with Golovkin?
A: Exactly. With Golovkin people lie down and bottle it against them but not me, it would never get in my head, no way, no chance. I’d be the happiest man in the world if I got that fight. Look at Holyfield, nobody gave him a chance against Tyson and he went in there and beat him. He had no fear whatsoever, he wasn’t scared of anybody. I’m like that myself, I can put my hand on my heart and say I fear nobody.
Q: Your only defeat came against Billy Joe Saunders in July 2013 — is that your career low point?
A: Without doubt. He burst my ear drum in the second round, I had a lot of personal trouble in the lead-up to the fight and during it. It was a nightmare, an absolute nightmare. When you get your ear drum busted, it affects your equilibrium, my footwork was shocking,. I felt like doing a Roberto Duran and saying ‘no mas’ but there’s never a quit in me. I was so frustrated and I think I could’ve been in for another 120 rounds and still wouldn’t have caught up.
Q: But now you’re the best of friends. How does that work?
A: When you fight a guy, you look into each other’s eyes and you share something. We were looking in each other’s eyes for two hours and nearly fell in love! You get great respect for each other and he’s possibly my best friend in boxing now. Hopefully I can get revenge on him, I’d like to knock him out, pick him up, then take him for a drink.
Q: On the other hand, you seem to have the opposite relationship with Chris Eubank Jr. Do you still want that fight?
A: Of course but I think deep down he doesn’t want to fight me. I think it’s something in his head because of my connection with Cork and the Collins family. I think the Cork thing is a big issue — his daddy got beaten twice in Cork and I think there are a lot of things on his mind.
Q: You were almost scheduled to fight in May but it fell through. Could it happen in the future?
A: Who knows, he just doesn’t want it and I think it looks very, very embarrassing the way he has avoided me. I think he has got absolutely destroyed on social media because of it and I think he’s a bit of a phoney really, in every sense of the word.
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