By Damian Dolan.
Something is definitely going to have to give at Wembley Arena next Saturday night, as Gary O’Sullivan and Billy Joe Saunders put their unbeaten records on the line.
Carl Frampton may be the headline act, but its O’Sullivan’s defence of his hard earned WBO International middleweight title against the flamboyant and charismatic Saunders that could well end up stealing the show.
The Cork man has had to bide his time before hitting the big time. Forced to give up his Olympic dreams when he became a father at 18, O’Sullivan’s taken the long route round before finally making the breakthrough last summer on his 28th birthday when he defeated Matthew Hall at Upton Park.
Fighting on the undercard of David Haye and Dereck Chisora’s much hyped and unlicensed bout, O’Sullivan won a unanimous points decision over Hall to claim the vacant WBO title.
The biggest win of his long career by some stretch, it was also the first time O’Sullivan had fought over 12 rounds. He’d previously gone ten rounds when he beat Ciaran Healy to win the Irish Middleweight title in 2009 in Cork, but this was unchartered territory.
Offered the fight with just three weeks notice, and despite having to drop 18 pounds and suffering from conjunctivitis and a chest infection, as well as the British Boxing Board of Control threatening those involved with expulsion, for O’Sullivan is was simply too good an opportunity to turn down.
“I remember being told I’d be banned if I fought, but I just had to go for it anyway. You have to take these opportunities when they come up,” said O’Sullivan, who is now unbeaten in 16 fights since turning pro in 2008.
For more see this week’s edition of the Irish World