Fagan primed for big time breakthrough

01 April 2008 – by Cormac Campbell

Oisin Fagan is one of the oldest prospects in professional boxing – but that doesnt make him any less of a prospect.

The 34-year-old Oklahoma based Dublin lightweight hasnt exactly followed convention in forging a ring career, but his dedication and application to the sport has ensured that he will be a match for even the very best.

Growing up in Tallaght and Portmarnock, Fagan did little more than toy with a ring career to the extent that it it seemed other sports would define his life. I played hurling for Dublin at underage level and I captained my school side, Naomh Caoimhin, to a win the Corn Na Loch Cup in Gaelic Football in Croke Park,” he told irish-boxing.com. “I adored all sports growing up. In fact, I think I played every sport known to man, but as much as I loved to watch boxing, I never seriously put on a pair of gloves until much later in life.

In time soccer was the sport that emerged, both as Oisin’s favourite and the one he excelled at. “I started playing soccer on a competitive level when I was seven and this was to be my primary sport for the next twenty years.

“I trained three times a week for the football club and played a match on a Sunday, but I was so into my conditioning that I decided to go down to Portmarnock Amateur Boxing Club for my nights off from football. The club was run by two diligent trainers, Robbie Redmond and Eugene Prunty. I had three amateur fights at the novice level and won all three – but they took place over the space of six years.

Despite being a self admitted class clown in school, Fagan still managed to go to University, through the unlikely route of a soccer scholarship at the University of Science and Arts in Oklahoma, USA. However, whilst in Oklahoma, and aged 29, Oisin was drawn to the ring through financial necessity.

“I was a bit of a political activist in college and would boycott and protest any injustices that I felt needed attention at the drop of a hat. It got me into trouble at times with some of the administrators and nearing the end of my four-year term there, some of my scholarship money was cut as a result of one such boycott that I’d initiated.

“So, the decision to turn pro in boxing was really out of necessity. I graduated college with honours, with a teaching certificate, a degree in physical education and with diplomas in political science and journalism. However, since I hadn’t the proper visa to stay on after graduation, coupled with a lack in funds – I was down to $22 in my bank account and was sponging off friends for places to sleep – I decided to hunt down a local boxing promoter.

“I asked him to put me in against anyone, in the hope of acquiring some money to get me by. He must have thought all his birthdays had come at once – a ‘lamb to the slaughter’. So he put me in with an accomplished amateur, also competing in his debut as a pro. I stopped the kid in four rounds – and the rest is history. It’s definitely strange the way things work out.”

Events were to take an even more fortuitous twist when a supporter Oisin earned that evening learned he was a qualified teacher. “God must have been looking down on me, because at the very same fight, I got talking to the principal of a school – Phil Cunningham. He learned that I had my teaching cert and it just so happened that his school was looking for a PE teacher. He asked me to come in for an interview and I’ve been teaching there 5 years now and I love it. In the interim period, the exciting Fagan has combined teaching duties with a ring career, which thus far stands at 21-5 (13).

Mixing it and indeed holding his own with a number of big names, Fagan rhymes off a list of his accomplishments thus far. The highlights.my pro-debut – a stoppage win in four over Sheldon Mosley, the Oklahoma Lightweight title (win by decision over Lee Cargle and the Irish Light-welterweight title (stoppage win in seven over Jeff Thomas). Then, I had mixed feelings when I thought I beat former world-champ Paul Spadafora and USBA champ Verquan Kimbrough, only to be robbed on their promoter’s cards and in Kimbrough’s hometown, with split decisions in both fights.

I also gave Julio Cesar Chavez Jr a great fight at the MGM Grand in Vegas, in which he told reporters afterwards, that it was his toughest fight to date. All these top-opponents had hundreds of amateur fights between them, but I, with only three, showed everyone that I could compete on their level, because of my tenacity, determination and sheer Irish grit. More recently I fought at Madison Square Garden and that was a huge highlight, considering that all the world’s greats have fought there, from the Cinderella Man to the great Joe Louis. It was a huge honour to fight and win there, like so many of my heroes.

As a result of such perceived injustices, Fagan retains the burning ambition to fight for and win a major title. I am open to fighting anyone in the world for the right price. I want the world to know that if they get in the ring with me, it’s going to be a torrid affair and not one that they’ll likely forget any time soon.

The possibility of big fights remain a genuine possibility, but Fagans life and career is undoubtedly at something of a crossroads. Aged 34 and with the reality of moving home to Ireland this summer looming, his mind is awash with conflicting options. Whether I stay home, or come back to the US, is up in the air right now. I guess a lot of it depends on if anyone offers me a deal that I can’t refuse.

If I end up staying home, I’d love to get some nice fights against the top guys around. I’d like to win back my Irish title. Andrew Murray is now the Irish lightweight champion, so that might be a great fight for us both. He’s a great little fighter. Hopefully we’d get a few bob for that too. Whatever happens, I want to continue to box for a couple or maybe three more years. Also, Paul McCloskey is looking great at the moment and doing us all proud. That would have been a fight that I’d be interested in, but I think he’s a little bit too big for me at the moment. Maybe if we could compromise on a catchweight, it might be possible. He’s a smashing fighter and I think he could go all the way.

I have a little while yet, but I guess, I’d better be thinking about that stuff pretty soon.

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