12 November 2009 – By Mark Doyle
Irish-Canadian middleweight Matt OBrien is hoping that a stellar showing on the undercard of Andy Lees clash with Affif Belghecham on Saturday night will earn him a crack at Jim Rock.
OBrien, who has won all but one of his 18 professional bouts to date, will take on Cameroons Jean Rodrigue Kamdoum on the Limerick bill and freely admits that he sees the bout as a stepping stone to an intriguing clash with four-weight Irish champion Rock.
“To be honest, hes the guy I really have my sights set on right now. Theres something about him just makes me want to bash him up,” OBrien said of The Pink Panther.
“Maybe its his pink shorts but for my money he just seems to cherry pick easy fights for himself and then go around calling himself an Irish Champion.
“If Rock has the courage to step in to the ring with me I will knock him out and retire him for good so that he can concentrate on selling cars full time!”
And OBrien insists that he wont stop there, believing that he will soon be in a position to call out his US-based Irish middleweight rivals Lee and John Duddy.
“Ive watched Andy Lee fight and I think that would be a great challenge for me,” he admitted. “Hes tall and has a long reach and hes scored some impressive knockouts.
“We both have almost identical records in the pros and we both have something to prove so Im looking forward to seeing him up close this weekend.
“John Duddy is another tough Irish middleweight and my style is quite similar to his. If we were to fight it would definitely make for one exciting fight for the fans to say the least so thats another fight Id relish.”
The only defeat of OBriens career thus far came against one of Duddys former foes, Walid Smichet, who stopped the confident Irish-Canadian in the tenth and final round of their clash in March, 2007.
“Up until that point in my career I had never even been knocked down and I went into that fight thinking I never would be,” said OBrien.
“I made the mistake of blindly going for a knock out in the last round, even though I was way ahead and winning on all the judges score cards (88-83 on all three).
“I just got caught by a big punch. I momentarily lost focus after boxing Smichets ears off for nine and a half rounds but we all know how tough and dangerous a warrior Walid is. I watched him beat Duddy from pillar to post after that and he was very unlucky not to get the decision.
“The defeat taught me that I need to take my time in the ring. I know I have the skills to outbox anyone, but I think my Irish blood tells me to go to war every time. So I just need to take the lessons learned in that fight and bring that in to my future fights.”
Indeed, he intends to make an excellent first impression on fight fans when he takes to the ring in Limerick on Saturday night.
“Its really exciting to be going back to my roots and my family is really proud that Im going to be fighting in Ireland. Were family thats always kept our Irish heritage and values close to our hearts. Its always been a big part of who we are,” he explained.
“I consider Canada to be one of the best countries in the world to live in, and its very unique in that it allows people to keep their heritage and culture alive and thats a wonderful thing. My family was forced to leave their home in County Cork generations ago but Im really looking forward to coming home and proving my fighting Irish spirit.”
RT TWOs live coverage of the event begins at 10:30, directly after their broadcast from Croke Park. Tickets for the Yanjing Fight Night priced from 40 are available from Ticketmaster (phone 0818 719 300 or visit ticketmaster.ie), The George Boutique Hotel in Limerick and all usual outlets.