26 February 2010 – By Leonard Gunning
Lancashire born Dubliner Chris OBrien talks to irish-boxing.com prior to his Saturday, February 27 showdown with Jason Nesbitt and outlines his ambitions for an Irish title fight.
OBrien faces the battle hardened Brummie Nesbitt at the Blackpool Tower, which is the home of British ballroom dancing, but the Sheriff is hoping that the footwork which sparring partner Kenny Anderson has been helping him improve upon at Kevin Marees Stirk House Hotel Gym will be the telling factor in his fight on the undercard of the Brian Rose-Bertrand Aloa bout for the vacant British International Masters light-middleweight title.
Nesbitt recently dropped to a points defeat against Manchester Irish fighter Kieran Maher and fought the Joe Gallagher trained Anthony Crolla at the Fenton Manor in Stoke. Crolla subsequently informed OBrien about what he should expect from the evergreen journeyman who, despite his many losses, has only been stopped once in over 50 fights.
Million Dolla Crolla reported that, Nesbitt will come out head hunting early on, looking to land big overhand rights but apart from that he is not a bad boxer and makes you work. You just need to keep the pressure on him and you should do the business.
Whilst OBrien isnt looking past Nesbitt he does have an immediate aspiration burning in the back of his mind. My goal is to box for the Irish title, if it is against (Stephen) Haughian or in an Irish Prizefighter it doesnt matter, thats what I want. explained OBrien.
Of course I have been following Bernard Dunne but I generally just concentrate on myself really although I keep an eye on the guys at my weight. Maybe I could get a fight with Neil Sinclair down the line but I especially want Haughian because he has the (Irish) title.
Ive heard rumours and I would love to get involved with any Irish version of the Prizefighter Series. There are loads of Irish guys that could make welterweight and that would be amazing to get involved with that, it would be absolutely amazing. I can just picture it, everyone I know would be there – the Culchies and the Dubs!
The Culchies and Dubs reference uncovers the complex mix in OBriens own life. He alongside trainer and Cousin Kevin Maree are both of Mayo and Dublin parentage who arrived in the UK, like many before the Celtic Tiger, in search of work and a living but both still remain ferociously proud of their Irish heritage.
OBrien explained his background I was born in Burnley but my Dad is from Sheriff Street in the centre of Dublin and when I was six we went back and lived in Lucan in the family home on Sheriff Street but then returned to Burnley when I was about sixteen and when work dried up over in Burnley we went back to Dublin its over and back depending on work.
Both sides the family are Irish and my mothers side of the family is from Castlebar. She was born in Chicago and Kevins (Maree) Mum, who was born in Mayo, are sisters and lived in Chicago before returning to Mayo. Then my Mum moved to Dublin for work and met my Dad and the rest is history – a real immigrants story.
As a teenager OBrien boxed for the Dublin Dockland Boxing Club on Sheriff Street (hence the nickname) in the amateurs and was scheduled to fight at the National Boxing Stadium for the Irish Nationals but that dream was to end in bitter disappointment without a glove being thrown.
Recalling the story with regret the Sheriff recalled all my family were coming from Mayo, England and around Dublin, so it was going to be a great occasion but then I got the Mumps and that ruined it and I missed my chance for the Irish championships. I lost faith in boxing a bit after that for some time and then I went back to England. I wasnt until Kev encouraged me and got me into professional boxing that I found my way back into the sport again.
The Burnley based boxer is now eight fights into an unbeaten career and boasts a record of six wins and two draws but has yet to fight an eight rounder so does not qualify to fight for an Irish title yet but aims to make his professional debut on Irish soil and have an eight rounder within the next six months.
OBrien finished the interview by enthusing that an Irish title would be a dream for me. We (the Heenan, Maree and OBrien families) dont all get to see each other much anymore because we are all over the place but an Irish title would be the chance to get us back together again.
Also on the undercard of the Blackpool bill is Manchester flyweight Kieran Farrell who also seeks an Irish debut. Farrell whose paternal family hail from Dunleer, County Louth aims to be the first Irish title holder in the flyweight or super flyweight division if a suitable opponent can be found.