DERRY middleweight, Connor Coyle can barely contain his excitement as he prepares to step into the ring to make his debut in the professional ranks in the USA tonight.
The Galliagh man weighed-in yesterday and has been counting down the hours before he ducks between the ropes at the A La Carte Pavillion Centre in Tampa, Florida in the small hours of Sunday morning, Irish time.
He’s spent 12 weeks Stateside away from his baby daughter, Clódagh-Rose, who turns eight months next Wednesday, and girlfriend, Ashleigh in a bid to further his career and he’s confident the sacrifices he’s made will pay off.
Commenting from his base in St Petersburg, Western Florida this morning, the former St Joseph’s ABC clubman, said he was ‘super excited’ his time had finally arrived.
“I’m not even nervous, I’m superb excited,” he said. “I’ve never been this excited for a fight.
“I’ve been up since 6.30 a.m. this morning, I couldn’t sleep, and I’ve been shadow boxing in the mirror,” he laughed.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better camp, a better coach or a better team behind me.
“I spent 12 weeks away from home, away from my daughter and it was hard to get up and leave her, but this is what it’s all been about tonight and I just have to go in and do what I do best.
“I’ve no worries about fitness or anything so I’m just going to go in and enjoy it and get the outcome we’re expecting.”
He’s certainly got the right man in his corner for his pro debut with Hall of Fame coach, Jim McLoughlin showing him the ropes.
I spent 12 weeks away from home, away from my daughter and it was hard to get up and leave her, but this is what it’s all been about tonight and I just have to go in and do what I do best.Connor Coyle
“It’s been great being around Jim (McLoughlin) with the experience he has. He has half of this arena sold out already just for my fight.”
He’s had five different opponents pull out in the run-up to fight night when they discovered his successful amateur career and that he’s a former Commonwealth Games bronze medallist. Euris Silverio (0-4-0) eventually took up the challenge last week for the scheduled four rounder.
However, Coyle hasn’t allowed the changes in opponents to disrupt his training camp.
“This guy stood in last week to take the fight,” he explained. “He weighed-in exactly the same as me at 159.4kgs. He’s smaller in height but he’s a bit stockier. Regardless of my opponent, I’m determined to get my pro career off to a good start.”
Discussing his leap into the paid ranks after a frustrating amateur career where he missed out on featuring at the Rio Olympics in the summer, Coyle says he believes it’s proved to be a blessing in disguise given the controversy which surrounded Team Ireland in the Brazilian capital.
“I’m glad I’m away from the amateurs now and have started something fresh - something I’ve wanted to do for a few years,” he said. “I stayed in the amateurs in an attempt to reach the Olympics but obviously that didn’t happen. Nobody from the Ireland team got medals which was crazy. Everything happens for a reason and the time was right to go pro.”
The All Star Boxing card is titled ‘Attack and Conquer’ - a name Coyle thinks is apt for his boxing style and intentions to crack the American market like his fellow Galliagh man, John Duddy.
“I’ve put everything on the line being away from home for so long. I’m not putting too much pressure on myself but I know I’m ready for this.
“I plan on going out there to enjoy myself and box. If the opportunity for a KO comes I’ll take it. The main thing is to box well.”
Coyle’s girlfriend will be at ringside tonight but for all his friends and family and large support back home, they’ll have to settle with watching from the middleweight’s Facebook page as Ashleigh goes ‘live’ from around 2.30 a.m. Irish time.
“My girlfriend came over last week so she’ll be here. The fight will be shown live on a Spanish channel called Telemundo. But people will hopefully be able to see it when Ashleigh goes live on my Facebook when my fight comes on.”
It’s only the start for Coyle but he’s hoping to go 2-0 before Christmas 2016 with a date confirmed for his Irish professional bow in the National Stadium, Dublin on the ‘Inception’ card, promoted by newly established Red Corner Promotions. He will make a swift return to Derry after the fight and get back into training for the November 5th show promptly.
So it’s an exciting time for professional boxing in Derry with both Coyle and Glen native, Tyrone McCullagh fighting this weekend while Galliagh man John Cooley (1-0-0) who is also based in Florida is also making his name in the game.
“There’s a good buzz surrounding boxing in Derry at the minute and it’s probably not been like that since the days of John Duddy and Paul McCloskey. The support we have back home is amazing and hopefully I can put on a show for them tonight,” concluded Coyle.
Tickets are available for Coyle’s Irish debut in Dublin at Rod and Line in Clarendon Street.