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'I thought there was a choke coming!': Kennedy laughs off opponent's judo antics on famous weekend for Gorey

Unbeaten heavyweight Niall Kennedy was left with ‘a dead right arse cheek’ after his impressive win in Boston.

Gavan Casey reports from Boston

GOREY GARDA NIALL ‘Bas’ Kennedy’s only complaint following his impressive outing at Boston’s TD Garden on Saturday night was that he had lost feeling in his backside.

Kennedy outboxed and outfought the previously unbeaten ‘Brutal’ Brendan Barrett, who lived up to his moniker — and his MMA background — by flinging Kennedy to the canvas with a judo move of some description early doors.

And Kennedy, whose win at the home of the Boston Celtics and Bruins kickstarted a famous sporting weekend for his hometown ahead of today’s Wexford Senior Hurling Championship final, admitted post-fight that he feared the worst having been unceremoniously dumped to the floor.

“It was impressive, wasn’t it?” he said of Barrett’s takedown, which inexplicably didn’t earn the American so much as a point deduction.

I was panicking — I thought there was a choke coming after. I didn’t know what was going on. Ah, Jesus, he was unorthodox. I’ve a dead right arse cheek, and I don’t think you’re supposed to have one of them in boxing, so…

“He was big, rough… Jesus, he was wider than he was tall,” Kennedy continued. “He was physically strong. I can’t explain some of the things he was doing — he tried to trip me a couple of times. And when he got me down, I remember being on me face thinking, ‘I’m not a million per cent sure this lad is stopping here!’

“It definitely wasn’t pretty, I’d say, but I got out of it, I got the win, I’ve no injuries, thank God — I could go again next week if I had to, so…”

Kennedy was cheered on by a sizeable support at ‘The Gahden’, with Bostonian encouragement notably as audible as that of a more conventionally Irish tone.

“It’s amazing,” he said. “I had fantastic support — my support is getting better and better.

I’ve lads out here from Gorey that booked the flights, and Gorey are in the hurling county final tomorrow [Sunday] at home, so that’s massive!

Indeed, Kennedy was sporting a pair of Naomh Eanna socks in the ring in support of his club. Sure enough, they were crowned Wexford county champions for the first time in their history this evening, seeing off St Martin’s — a feat made all the more incredible by the fact that they were a Junior club as recently as six years ago.

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“Look, people wouldn’t know that fight was very… There was a lot of sentimental stuff going on,” added ‘Boom Boom Bas’.

My best friend is battling cancer at home. He has leukaemia — he’s under a lot of pressure. It’s the first time that myself and the wife have been away from the little man [their son, MJ] as well, so… Look, there was a lot of reasons to fight, there was a lot of reasons to win, and bar a chokehold that man wasn’t beating me tonight.

“I think with a chokehold, he would have, all right!” Kennedy laughed. “We move on, anyway. It definitely wasn’t pretty, but I’m not pretty, so maybe that explains it!”

And he’ll continue to move on Stateside rather than back across the Atlantic: Kennedy and trainer-manager Paschal Collins are targeting a North American heavyweight title rather than the Irish equivalent.

The simple fact is that the NABF title will open considerably more doors than the BUI strap. Kennedy, who is promoted by Dropkick Murphy’s frontman Ken Casey and his Murphy’s Boxing outfit in Beantown, hasn’t fought in Ireland since nearly two years ago, and he doesn’t see that changing for the foreseeable future.

“We’re talking to Kevin McBride about it [the Irish title], and we’re trying to get that made,” joked Kennedy. “No, I’m not based in Ireland — I’m based in America. It’s not that I wouldn’t be interested — I wouldn’t dishonour the BUI or anything like that.

“I’ve never had success as an Irish amateur, so my objective when I started as a pro wasn’t to be successful in Ireland — it was to build what we’re building here. And thanks to Ken Casey and Packie and Murphy’s Boxing, and Matchroom now for letting me on a show like this.

“I think I showed I’m a ticket-seller — my crowd is after improving, so hopefully I’ll get back on one. Maybe a little bit of a prettier fight the next time,” Kennedy smiled.

Next up on on his schedule, though, is ‘work-work’, where he’ll swap the gloves, trunks and GAA socks for his garda uniform. He’s due to report for duty at his Wicklow Town station midweek.

“I’m back to work on Wednesday,” Kennedy said, conspicuously perturbed by the sheer thought of it. “I’m in at… Please don’t say I’m in at seven o’clock, because I only get back Tuesday… But I think I actually am in at seven in the morning!

“Everyone that meets me in Wicklow on Wednesday, I apologise for the humour I’ll be in,” he laughed.

“Stop talking about work when I’m away, will ya?”

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