Pierce O’Leary: “I would love to headline Madison Square Garden.”
By Gary Kittilsen
Highly touted undefeated 22-year-old, 140-pound prospect Pierce “Big Bang’ O’Leary of Dublin, Ireland, is set to return to the ring on April 15th, at the York Hall in Bethnal Green, London.
It’s the second consecutive fight at York Hall for the Dubliner, who stopped Siar Ozgul in seven rounds back in October to move his record to 8-0 (4). It’s also the fifth camp with his trainer Al Smith. O’Leary and Smith seemingly have been a match made in heaven. After winning his opening four fights with just the one stoppage victory, O’Leary made the switch following a victory over 75 fight veteran Liam Richards.
The fight was streamed by ESPN in the States and it put the Irishman on the radar of American fight fans, making him a must-watch prospect on both sides of the Atlantic. However, the undefeated prospect was unimpressed with his performance saying: “To be honest it wasn’t a great performance for me and right after that fight I got with my new trainer.”
Since teaming up with his new trainer, it has been like he hit a switch. Coming out of the amateurs, O’Leary was thought to be a big puncher, but had only one knockout in his first four fights. O’Leary explained:
“I was looking for knockouts and I wasn’t setting up the timing correctly. I never learned how to use my power.”
O’Leary credits Smith, his new trainer, for the sudden surge of power:
“Now I’m sitting down on my shots a lot more, I’m not looking for the power. The power is coming with the speed, and that’s it, as soon as they get hit its lights out.”
It certainly has been lights out with O’Leary’s power since joining up with Smith in their first together O’Leary took a massive challenge with fellow unbeaten light-welterweight prospect Jacob Quinn.
“Quinn was made out to be the next big thing, but I didn’t know much about him, so I just kept grinding away, biting down on the gumshield at the gym and did what my coaches told me to, just stick on him straight away and I got him out of there.”
A picture-perfect left hand that landed with some force put Quinn down and prompted the referee John Latham to call the fight off. He followed that up, two fights later with yet another highlight-reel knockout. This time it was Jan Marsalek who felt the power of O’Leary. Again it was the left hook that put Marsalek down and out, in what was a knockout of the year contender.
When asked which of the two knockouts he liked better, the Dubliner replied without hesitation: “Marsalek, he never got up off the ground.” He next added the Ozgul stoppage making him 4-0 with three wins coming within the distance since joining up with Smith.
O’Leary decided to turn pro after a highly controversial loss in the second round of the 2019 EUBC European U22 Championships. He described the frustrating and controversial loss:
“In Russia, in March 2019, I won my first fight and the second fight I fought a Welsh guy [Michael McDonagh ] and came up on the wrong end of a decision where I thought I done enough to get it and so did everyone else. From that moment I said I am done. I told my old amateur trainer, I am done, it’s either I give up boxing or I am going professional.”
O’Leary signed with MTK Global and embarked on his professional career full of confidence. He said that he would be a world champion by the age of 24. He is now absolutely hyper-focused on making that goal a reality. A goal that has not changed due to the pandemic shutting things down for a while saying:
“The pandemic did slow me down a bit. I was fighting once or twice a year instead of four times a year, but it benefitted me a lot with my new coach, Al Smith, we got to work on a lot of stuff together I was working in the gym constantly and the benefit showed.”
O’Leary is still completely 100% focused on getting in a position to win a world title there’s nothing else he wants:
“I only want the champions. I am not a guy that calls out people, I don’t look at someone and say I want to fight him. I just want to keep improving, get into fights, win the fights, and then they won’t be able to turn away from me. They’ll have to fight me.”
The extremely confident, undefeated, 22-year old prospect plans on staying busy and by the close of play next year hopes to have advanced his career to an unbeaten resume of around sixteen fights:
“At that point, I want to be fighting for a title at that point, I will be up at that level.” said the confident Irishman. That would also make him 24-years-old the exact same age he said he would be a world champion at when he signed with MTK back in 2019. His goals don’t end there, adding he wants to eventually go on and headline in Madison Square Garden saying “I would love to headline Madison Square Garden, the Irish built America, and it’s a dream to fight over there and maybe one day defend the title there.”
Continuing the great Irish legacy is something that O’Leary embraces, there have been so many fighters from Ireland in recent years, Michale Conlon, Gary O’Sullivan, Jason Quigley, Jono Carroll, and many others but there hasn’t been a truly great Irish fighter, in the mould of a Steve Collins or Barry McGuigan in quite some time. O’Leary is viewed by many as the possible heir apparent in the rich history of Irish boxing. However, he doesn’t feel like possibly carrying that torch is any added pressure:
“There’s no pressure on me at all. If they want to put that kind of pressure on me it’s no problem at all! I can deal with that kind of pressure. I’ll just keep performing better under pressure.” he added
However, that’s down the road, right now the goal is simple:
“To keep winning, keep improving, pick up all the small belts and get ranked in the top 15, get into a position to fight for a world title… I want the champions.”
A lofty goal eight fights into his career but certainly not an unrealistic one:
“Because at the end of the day I am only getting better I ain’t going backwards.”