PRIZEFIGHTER King’ Eamonn O’Kane believes Sean McGlinchey must ‘play it smart’ when preparing for Ireland’s inaugural ‘Last Man Standing’ tournament at Dublin’s National Stadium on March 3rd.
O’Kane ranks his 2012 middleweight Prizefighter success among his top three greatest nights in boxing and reckons it’s the perfect platform for Creggan man, McGlinchey to launch his career in the paid ranks.
A shot at the Irish middleweight title and a tasty E25,000 winners’ purse is at stake but O’Kane has warned the Derry man must expect the unexpected if he’s to come out on top in the eight man show.
The Banagher man, a 2010 Commonwealth Gold medallist, defeated JJ McDonagh, Ryan Greene and Anthony Fitzgerald to lift the all-Irish middleweight Prizefighter at the King’s Hall and move up to 7-0 less than 12 months after turning professional.
It was all in a night’s work and O’Kane thinks it’s the perfect move for McGlinchey (2-0) whose pro career has got off to a stuttering start.
“I’m sure everyone is in it to win it to give them a bit of a profile which is exactly what Prizefighter did for me,” he said. “Yes, I had the Commonwealth Games behind me but as a pro you still have to make your mark and for me that’s how I made my mark as a pro.
I still wish I could’ve done more and wish I had of won that world title but definitely the Prizefighter is in the top three of my career achievements.Eamonn O’Kane
“It’s three rounds and you have to make your impression very quickly or the fights over. It definitely suited me and Sean’s not that long out of the amateur game, so it will definitely suit him too.
“My advice is to train everyday when your sparring like your in the competition. The more times you prepare like your in it physically and mentally then the better you cope with the situations on the night. It’s up to your coaches to try and throw spanners in the works to help you deal with different scenarios.
“On the night there are definitely going to be things happening which aren’t the norm. People will be looking to talk to you and interview you and you’re going to have to have the right people around you to help you focus on your job which is to win Last Man Standing. So have the right circle of people around you and replicate the Last Man Standing format as much as possible.”
O’Kane, who hung up his gloves after a distinguished career as both an amateur and professional in 2016 insists the competition will be of a ‘high standard’.
He ranks Dubliner, Roy Sheahan as slight favourite given his success as an amateur while he believes his former stablemate at Immaculata, Alfredo Meli will be one to watch.
However, having sparred with McGlinchey O’Kane is confident ‘Mummy’s Bhoy’ can bring home the title which will do wonders for his professional career which has been frustrating so far.
“That’s a high standard and it looks like it will be a tough competition. The four who stand out for me are definitely Sean, Roy Sheahan and Alfredi Meli. I know Bernard Roe was there and mixing it with the top boys so he will definitely be one to be reckoned with.
“But any one of them. And it just depends on how Roy Sheahan, Alfredi Meli and Sean McGlinchey turn up and how well they’ve prepared.
“Definitely Sean’s got the talent to win it, So does Roy Sheahan and so does Alfredo Meli.Sean was a heavyweight as an amateur. I would say physically there was very little between myself and Sean. I had Sean over sparring for my last fight and I know Sean well down through the years.
“I haven’t heard of Roy Sheahan doing an awful lot this last while so his inactivity will definitely count against him. But if you’re talking about titles and pedigree he’s got the best CV.”
There’s an overall prize pool of E50,000 with the eventual winner taking home E25,000 along with an additional E5,000 for their amateur club. With E1,000 on the table for a stoppage, O’Kane warned participants not to go looking for the knockout.
“If that’s your focus then sometimes you can get caught out and it could be turned on its head if you’re going for the knockout. I would be more focused on going for the win - that’s what my advice would be to anybody. Focus on the win not the knockout. If it comes, that’s great, extra money in the bank but the priority is to win the competition.”
O’Kane’s career took off after the televised Prizefighter win and he believes McGlinchey can follow a similar path should he emerge victorious.
Victory would take him from 2-0 to a very respectable 5-0 as he enters just his second year in the professional ranks. And by the end of the year he could well have an Irish middleweight title on his CV!
“I still wish I could’ve done more and wish I had of won that world title but definitely the Prizefighter is in the top three of my career achievements.
“Between Prizefighter, Commonwealth Games gold medal and the IBF Intercontinetal title - I have a few different highlights but it’s definitely one of the top.
“It’s the best thing for him if he wins. He’s got the capability to win and there’s a few other guys who could do that. If he does it puts him above the rest of the guys so it would be a massive jump for anyone who wins it.
“In the same respect, it’s not the end of the road if he doesn’t.
“As long as he goes out and makes a good performance and good representation of himself, that’s what his focus should be on. Everyone knows he’s got the capability but he’s got to make his mark now.”