Forty-year-old Sligo boxer Stephen ‘Block’ Reynolds is looking to turn back the years as he faces unbeaten 25-year-old knockout artist, Declan Trainor, for the Celtic Nations cruiserweight title in only his third appearance in the pro ranks on the packed ‘Celtic Clash’ bill at the Devenish Complex in Belfast on Saturday, September 14.
In his opening year as a professional boxer the veteran earned a hard fought points win over Uganda’s Moses ‘The Black Mamba’ Matovu in Belfast, and last time out Reynolds floored Lithuanian tough-nut, Ruslan Bitarov, four times on route to a spectacular second round knockout victory which boosted his ranking in the Irish Cruiserweight division from 9th to 5th place in a period of just six months.
“I got a great start to the pro game but it all went quiet in the last six months due to shows being called off and quality opponents not being available, but that’s all changed now and I’ve got the biggest challenge of my boxing career ahead of me against Declan Trainor for the Celtic Nations belt,” said five time Irish amateur champion Reynolds, “My opening fight versus Matovu was a real eye opener to be honest. I knew the jump from amateur code to the pros was a big one and I learned on my debut not to underestimate these guys or it could be lights out.
“I knew what to expect when the Bitarov fight came around. We decided not to give him a second of peace, and to whip in the body shots from the first bell. Luckily we got some video of him from a contact in Europe and we knew he didn’t cope well with an assault to the body.
“The plan worked to perfection, but fair play to Bitarov because he was game and really came to win. He could’ve easily quit after he went down from the first knockdown, but he kept getting up and coming at me. It was over quickly but I trained hard for that fight because it was a step up in class and a step up from the four round to six round level. I’ll have to work even harder again for this fight in Belfast as its another step up to 8 rounds which leaves the door open for an Irish title shot then,” added the Ballinacarrow Boxing Club coach.
“I’ve watched a bit of Trainor on YouTube, he’s a ferocious all-action puncher with accurate hands and fast feet. He has won all his fights by first round knockout so I’ll have to have my wits about me from the opening bell. He started his pro career in Australia and stopped one of their champions in the first round. That was just Declan’s debut and is still the only fight that his opponent has ever lost, so you can imagine it sent a bit of a shock wave through the scene,” outlined Reynolds.
Trainor carried on in Ireland where he left off in Australia with first round demolition of Hungarian brawler Tamas Danko in March of this year.
“I know it’s a risky fight and a lot of people are making Trainor a favourite to beat me in Belfast but I haven’t got the time to hang around and fight soft opponents. At my stage I haven’t time to waste, I want the best in Ireland and I want them now. It’s a really evenly matched fight but I know my strength and experience will be enough to overcome Trainor’s speed and youth on the night,” explained unbeaten Reynolds.
“Stephen has been a revelation since turning pro,” said manager Leonard Gunning. “No one comes into a pro ring in better condition than Stephen and I know how hard he works to get himself in that shape. We know he hasn’t got another 10 or 15 years left in his career like regular boxers who turn professional, so his acceleration through the ranks is on fast forward.
“It makes exciting viewing for the droves of supporters that travel from Sligo to watch his fights. This is a very risky fight for Stephen, he could have taken a much softer fight but built his record up to 10-0 he is always pushing for hard fights and now he has gotten his wish.”
The show, dubbed the ‘Celtic Clash’ features two other Celtic Nations title fight and rising talent from across Ireland including unbeaten fighters like Commonwealth Games gold medallist Paddy Gallagher, Ireland’s only female pro boxer Christina McMahon and Irish boxing’s ‘Prospect of the Year 2012’ Anthony Cacace with Daniel ‘Insane’ McShane, Joe Hillerby and the ‘Buncrana Banger’ John Hutchinson also bringing more quality to the show.
Tickets for Stephen’s bout at the Devenish Complex, Belfast on Saturday, September 14th, range from £30 for unreserved seating and £45 for a ringside position. Return bus from Sligo for just €10.
Tickets are available in Sligo from Barton Smith Sports, the Adelaide Casino and Ballinacarrow Boxing Club. Alternatively call 087 858 9369 (RoI), 079 85 646 187 (NI) or visit www.boxing-ireland.com.