Relaxed Spike ready to earn his salt in Brooklyn

While main event stars Gervonta Davis and Rolando Romero steal oxygen for now, O'Sullivan and Lara will come face to face Friday
Relaxed Spike ready to earn his salt in Brooklyn

Brooklyn shot: Gary 'Spike' O'Sullivan during his middleweight contest with Gabor Gorbics at The Royal Theatre in Castlebar, Mayo. Pic: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Soon after Gary 'Spike' O'Sullivan gets up this morning in his Downtown Brooklyn hotel, he'll hop into an epsom salt bath which will be hotter than most of us mere mortals would be able to bear.

It’s all part of a weigh-in day ritual that helps shed a few vital pounds; copious sweating and invaluable cleansing.

“I have a very high pain threshold because I was beaten up all my life growing up,” he tells me laughing.

That will come in handy in the small hours of Sunday morning when he steps into the ring with Erislandy Lara at around 3am Cork time.

Spike and Lara will head to the Barclays Center  for a weigh-in that will bring them both back into the fold after being left out of it a little by the main event on Thursday.

The arena, which is normally home to the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets, is almost a sellout with the main draw being the grudge showdown between lightweights Gervonta Davis and Rolando Romero.

The middleweight support act opponents enjoyed a day off Thursday from media duties as the main event stars stole most of the oxygen, almost coming to blows at a packed media conference at the Marriott near Brooklyn Borough Hall.

The sight of the unassuming Corkman returning from lunch and passing Romero’s angry entourage like ships in a night on the opposite escalator was a true contrast of fortunes.

Spike believes he can win but his experience is helping him breeze through his week.

“Water off a duck's back,” he tells me. “I've done it plenty of times. I don't give a shit about anything. Nothing fazes me. My one demand is the bathtub so I can lose weight before the weigh-in.

“I can make middleweight easier and from there it’s all about mental strength which I have in abundance.” Kind enough to allow us conduct a lengthy interview in his hotel room, away from the madness, Spike gives me a walk through of the food he packed in his suitcase to help keep preparations as smooth as possible.

“I'm doing everything I can,” he says. “There’ll be no regrets.” The Corkman has fought in bigger venues than the Brooklyn arena which can seat just over 20,000 and until he gets his dream fight as a middleweight champion at Pairc Ui Chaoimh, it’ll pale into significance compared to venues like London’s Upton Park and O2 Arena or arenas in Los Angeles and Las Vegas.

"I don't give a shit," Spike says laughing. "I'd fight him in his back garden if he wanted me to.

“He's all my Kryptonites at once, left-handed Southpaw. But I think I'm going to win, I've a very good feeling. My dad is 75. I want to be World Champion while my dad's alive."

When the pair came together at Gleason’s Gym on Wednesday, there were warm words between them, a completely different scenario to the main billing.

“I respect almost every fighter I've ever fought,” he points out. “I need them as much as they need me. We earn our money and we entertain people. I have the utmost respect for him. His career has been unbelievable. Good for him.

“The most important thing is we both get out of the ring healthy. I'll have a beer with him after the fight if he wants to have one.” Spike and his trainer manager Packie Collins have a well thought out strategy and his former for Billy Joe Saunders called him up last week and gave him some southpaw advice too.

And although he rightly won’t divulge, the main thing he stresses again is incredible tolerance for pain which was tested sternly during lockdown. When he over compensated by running six or seven days a week and developed plantar fasciitis, a foot massage machine caused him “10/10 pain” over 18 months ago.

After a period of time, maybe two months, it was down to zero. This fight might have come about suddenly but in many ways, he has stayed sharp and healthy and ready.

“I want to be as healthy as long as I can for my children,” he tells me as I leave. “I've lived a great life for me but I have my children so that drives me to keep going and work towards longevity.”

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