VIDEO: From boxing prospect to NBA champ - Connor Coyle has big plans for 2018

MIDDLEWEIGHT prospect Connor Coyle’s bid to conquer America is reaching new heights as the Derry man tops his first professional show on the Fire Fist Boxing Promotions bill in Florida on June 16th.

The 27 year-old Galliagh man is hoping to capture his first professional belt when he takes on Orlando native, Danny ‘El Bebo’ Pastrana (6-4-1) for the National Boxing Association (NBA) Junior Inter-Continental title at The Coliseum in St Petersberg.

Coyle, who is ramping up preparations in Derry before flying out for a six-week camp at his Florida base, is hoping it’s the first of three titles he will earn during a year which promises so much.

He’s been rubbing shoulders with two-weight world light middleweight champion and Hall of Famer Ronald ‘Winky’ Wright, who began his illustrious career on a similar path while Roy Jones Jnr is also a notable former NBA champion.

And ‘The Kid’ Coyle is hoping to follow in their legendary footsteps as he steadily climbs the middleweight ladder in the USA.

A measure of his progress is the fact his regular sparring partner, 2012 Olympic bronze medallist Yamaguchi Falcao (15-0), is touted as a possible opponent for middleweight superstar Gennady ‘Triple G’ Golovkin on May 5th next!

Derry middleweight. Connor Coyle is stepping up his training camp ahead of his first professional title fight in June.

Derry middleweight. Connor Coyle is stepping up his training camp ahead of his first professional title fight in June.

So he’s been mixing with some of the finest talent in the division and he’s ready to launch himself onto the middleweight radar with his first professional title this summer.

“I need to make a statement now for this title,” said Coyle. “We’re building up towards an NBA world title by the end of the year so hopefully I can collect a few belts before that.

“This is the first belt in the collection - the NBA Junior Inter-Continental,” he explained. “Then it’s the Inter-Continental and then eventually the NBA world title before the end of the year. So hopefully I lift three belts this year.

“I was speaking to ‘Winky’ Wright over there (in Florida) and he told me whenever he was starting off it was the first title he ever lifted as well and he built on that and Roy Jones Jnr as well - he lifted the NBA title as well. So all these top fighters started off with this same belt.”

There’s lot of changes afoot for the promising former St Joseph’s ABC clubman. In fact the 2012 Commonwealth Games bronze medallist hopes to break into the WBO’s official rankings by the end of 2018 should he stretch his record to 10-0 in his next three outings. And while his career is moving at a furious pace, Coyle isn’t getting carried away.

“Everything is getting bigger and better now as I start climbing up this ladder and once I get to 10-0 I’ll be on the WBO rankings. There’s a lot of things on the line now and I’m just letting time do its thing and not try and rush anything. Everything will happen in good time,” he predicted.

“My sparring partner in Florida is Yamaguchi who could be fighting ‘Triple G’. That has been my sparring partner for the last year. He’s in talks with ‘Triple G’ after Spike (O’Sullivan) pulled out. So that’s the boys I’m up with already. I’m holding my own and better with him so that gives me confidence.

“I’m staying humble and training hard and not letting anything else get in the way until I have the belt.”

His headline bout on the seven-fight card in St Petersberg this June will be his toughest yet but he’s not prepared to let it go the 10-round distance as he aims to make a real statement of intent.

“I like the hype of it all being the headliner and it keeps me on my toes and keeps me sharp but there’s no pressure. I enjoy it all. He’s a local fighter from Orlando so he will have a good crowd in too and with both sets of supporters together it should be an electric atmosphere on the night.

“I know this guy is a big puncher so he’ll come out and try and take me out right away going by some of the things he’s been saying. He’ll come out all guns-blazing from the start but I think I’ll do the same. I don’t want to take him past a couple of rounds.”

Coyle’s last outing was back in November when he recorded an unanimous decision victory over Calvin Metcalf and it’ll be seven months by the time he ducks between the ropes again. He was out five times during an active 2017 and he’s itching to get back under the lights at The Coliseum.

“It’s been a long time out. By the time I get into the ring again it’ll be seven months since the last time I was fighting and it’s too long. I don’t like being out of the ring that long.

“The fights are bigger now and longer rounds so the process will start slowing down in terms of the quantity of fights. Your body takes a lot of punishment throughout your training camp and then the longer fights because I’ll be sparring 12 or 15 rounds for a 12-round fight.

“I’m in Derry training with Cathair (Duffy) in St Joseph’s at the minute and he’s pushing me to my limit and I’m still eight weeks away, so I’ll be flying when it comes to fight night.”

Coyle would like to thank the following sponsors: Olympus Fitness, Classique Floor Design, G&K Contracts, Paul’s Butchers, The Metro Bar, The Bentley Bar, Evolve menswear, Doire Dress Designs, Jamm Derry, ThanksJosh Clothing and Whiterose Clinic.