By Jonny Stapleton
Thomas Hardwick dedicated the biggest win of his fledgling career to Warren O’Connor, a friend that was murdered on St Patrick’s weekend two years ago.
He also revealed his slain pal was the inspiration behind his impressive performance on the Matthew Macklin Sergio Martinez undercard.
“My friend, Warren O’Connor – who was murdered two years ago – would have been 26 this weekend, so I’d like to dedicate the fight to him. I think of him all the time and he gives me inspiration for every fight.”
A poignant note, but Hardwick was still happy after win number five.
The Coolock native registered an impressive win on a world title card and in front of a lot of Madison Square Garden support.
“Of course I’m happy – I dropped him twice and I never got hurt at any point. He was coming in a bit wild, so I was just trying to keep my cool. Boxing is all about learning and I’m happy with that one; five out of five is going in the right direction,” Hardwick added.
“It was great that I had some family and friends here with me. My old amateur trainer, Joe Vaughan, came over especially for the fight and walked me out to the ring, and really made me feel relaxed and at ease.”
The former Vincent’s footballer has fielded compliments after a solid start to his career, but aims to sail over the bar set by the best in the heavyweight Division.
The Dubliner is intent on learning his trade and doing so at his own pace, but like most boxers claims he has world title aspirations.
It is a break for the Yonkers based big man before possible New York, American and Irish titles.
“I’ll have a couple of days off but then I’ll be back in the gym, preparing for the next bout. I don’t know yet when that will be, but obviously I’d love to fight back home in Ireland as soon as possible. I’ve been away for four years now and I really miss home.
“The long term ambition, obviously, is to get a fight for the world title. I know something like that is down the road yet, but you have to believe you can go all the way, otherwise there’s no point in being in this game.
“The plan is, after maybe another two or three fights, to go for the New York title and then, after a few more, maybe get a shot at the American title.”
There was talk of titles, but after the bout Hardwick and his coach were keen to stress they are still at the learning stage.
Not to mention humble enough to admit there is room for improvement.
“I should probably have thrown more punches but I was trying to read the situation. I was trying to counter, but perhaps I should have been a bit more aggressive.