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Dublin: 2°C Thursday 21 January 2021

Cork's Spike O'Sullivan lays waste to Antoine Douglas in sensational Montreal upset

A career-best victory for the 33-year-old Cork man propels him to the fringes of world title contention.

Image: Ryan Remiorz

CORK MIDDLEWEIGHT GARY ‘Spike’ O’Sullivan destroyed world-ranked American Antoine Douglas inside seven rounds in Montreal to propel himself into the world title conversation.

The 33-year-old Mahon native secured his fifth win on the spin – his career-best to date and a stunning upset – in an enthralling contest with the previously once-beaten Douglas, eight years his junior.

The American shaded the opening rounds, opting to utilise his speed advantage by throwing in threes: his were the more eye-catching combinations, though in the first stanza, ‘Spike’ touched base with four ripping left hooks to the body.

The Corkman began the third with a sharp left upstairs which immediately got Douglas’ attention – the finest shot of the contest to that point – but his lack of head movement as he stalked forward saw the Virginia native again beat him to the punch for the most part.

Three rounds down, the Mahon man rediscovered his verve in the fourth – two thunderous left hooks to Douglas’ temple the most eye-catching shots while the fancied Yank’s own work slowed. Meanwhile, during frequent exchanges, cuffing shots from O’Sullivan were beginning to leave their mark as they frequently bypassed Douglas’ guard.

Having nicked his first round, O’Sullivan returned to trainer Paschal Collins in his corner with a spring in his step and a foothold in what was by now a compelling back-and-forth.

He found a home for his overhand right to begin the fifth before Douglas briefly hurt him to the body with a stinging left.

O’Sullivan, however, unleashed another left to Douglas’ head and marched onwards seemingly untroubled.

Sublime work from the Rebel warrior saw him pick up his second 10-score on this writer’s unofficial card: two three-punch combinations – with a couple of thunderous right hands in particular – were followed by a pair of scything lefts to Douglas’ rib cage.

By the sixth, O’Sullivan – now in the ascendancy – found a landing spot for his thudding jab. A shyer Douglas responded to the body and landed two nice right hands off the ropes.

The Munsterman finished the round the stronger with a nice right uppercut and an accurate flurry during a fast-paced final exchange.

The fight had evidently turned in ‘Spike’s favour, with Douglas conspicuously wilting in front of a captivated capacity crowd at Place Belle, Laval.

Throughout his 28-fight career, the heavy-hitting O’Sullivan has scarcely required a second invitation to move in for the kill, and he pounced with aplomb with just over a minute gone in the seventh.

A succinctly delivered left-handed bomb around the guard rendered Douglas static on his feet, and O’Sullivan finished the job with a ferocious barrage – the final shot of which was delivered as Douglas crumbled to the canvas.

Referee Steve St-Germain gave Douglas every chance to find his wits, but the former hot prospect was – as was quite evident to those watching – in orbit. St-Germain waved off the contest, with O’Sullivan dropping to his knees and kissing the canvas in celebration of what was a stunning upset – at least on the bookies’ cards.

The Celtic Warrior fighter, who grew up just a couple of miles from a Cork town which shares a name with tonight’s opponent, has a four-fight deal with Golden Boy Promotions, and will now become a viable voluntary defence for any of the middleweight world champions.

Oscar De La Hoya’s promotional giants are also mooted to be eyeing a their first ever show in Dublin next year, with Donegal middleweight Jason Quigley and Monaghan teen prodigy Aaron McKenna both signed full-time to their roster.

At the very least, O’Sullivan will have earned a lucrative return to HBO’s screens in America next spring, and a further opportunity to rubber-stamp his credentials as a world title contender.

O’Sullivan’s record improves to 27-2 (19KOs), while Douglas – once considered a red-hot prospect – faces career purgatory after dropping to 22-2-1 (16KOs).

Earlier on Saturday night in Boston, Wexford Garda Niall Kennedy – a Celtic Warrior stablemate of O’Sullivan – destroyed Danny Calhoun to retain his New England heavyweight championship.

The42 has just published its first book, Behind The Lines, a collection of some of the year’s best sports stories. Pick up your copy in Eason’s, or order it here today (€10):

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