Hennessy: O’Donnell best since McGuigan

02.05.07 - Promoter Mick Hennessy believes that standout welterweight John O’Donnell is the pick of a rapidly developing raft of talent with proud Irish heritage. The 21-year-old boxes Mexico’s Christian Solano over ten rounds at the MGM Grand on Saturday night on the undercard of Oscar de la Hoya’s highly anticipated showdown against Floyd Mayweather. His teammate John Murray, the history making WBC Youth Lightweight Champion, also appears..

The ‘Golden Pair’ feature on arguably the biggest event in boxing history courtesy of Mick Hennessy’s unique transatlantic relationship with Oscar de la Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions, who will co-promote the duo whenever they box Stateside.

Since O’Donnell travelled to the States last week - where he trained in de la Hoya’s LA gym before relocating to Vegas - the green fan base both in America and Ireland have really mobilised behind him. Hennessy is confident that he will more than do them proud in the years to come.

He said: “Irish boxing is going through a really good spell at the moment. It’s definitely on the up. It’s in a really healthy state with the likes of Bernard Dunne, John Duddy and Andy Lee, but I believe that O’Donnell is the pick of the lot.

“They are all quality fighters who are doing great stuff on both sides of the Atlantic, but O’Donnell is the one.

“His style is perfect for TV. He is slick, throws machine gun combinations and is hitting harder all the time. Golden Boy are very big on him and he impressed Shane Mosley when they sparred earlier in the week.

“He is only 21, but is showing the talent to be a true superstar. I would already say that he can be the best Irish fighter since Barry McGuigan. His potential is outstanding; it can take him right to the very top.”

O’Donnell was born in England, but talks with a strong Irish lilt courtesy of his Galway parentage. He proudly wears the ancient Irish symbol and the ancient Irish wording for ‘The Golden One’ on his robe. It’s a lofty title, but one his team are more than confident he can live up to.

The undefeated southpaw, who captured the English Championship last time out with an impressive win over fellow undefeated prospect Stuart Elwell, has fought in Ireland both as an amateur and professional. He received exceptional receptions on both occasions, as he has done this last week.

“I have a lot of family in Ireland, so I go back there all the time,” said O’Donnell. “It’s always great to box over there. I get a great reception. I boxed at the National Stadium as a professional last year and was made to feel really at home.

“The Irish support in America has been incredible as well. I can’t believe the amount of people wishing me well and telling me they love what I am doing. It’s really lifted me. I can’t wait to put on a big show on Saturday night.”

O’Donnell is not short of admirers. As a junior amateur he caught the eye by capturing two ABA Titles, a Four Nations Gold and an Olympic Gold. He has also excelled as a professional. Since turning over in 2004 he has racked up a 15-0 record, culminating in that win over Elwell in a chief support contest at the Nottingham Arena in January that was shown on Sky.

A top British film director has commissioned a camera crew to follow his development over the next 12 months with a view to producing a feature film/documentary, he has been the exclusive subject of an edition of the series ‘Fight Story’ in Canada where he has become extremely popular and ‘The Sun’ picked him out as their one to watch for 2007.

His trainer Robert McCracken, who should know a good fighter when he sees one, has also gone on record to single him out as an exceptional talent.

The former British and Commonwealth champion and WBC mandatory contender rates him as the first prospect to come through who is comparable for his stage of career to Oscar de la Hoya and Floyd Mayweather.

He has first-hand experience of both, having competed on the same International events as de le Hoya as an amateur and training in the same Vegas gym as Mayweather when he was based in the States as a pro.

"John has that similar spark about him,” said McCracken. “He is class, just as they were. Even though funny things can happen in boxing, I would put my house on him becoming a world champion.

“He is getting better and better. He has only just turned 21 and he is already sparring brilliantly with the likes of Carl Froch, (British and Commonwealth champion), and Junior Witter, (WBC Light Welterweight champion).

“As he steps up in opposition and starts showing everyone else what he shows to us every day, there will be no stopping him. John really has got it; he really is the Golden One.”

Article posted on 02.05.2007

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