By: Sean Crose
“Its a privilege to me to be in these types of fights,” Gary “Spike” O’Sullivan tells me. The 30-3 middleweight will be starting off the new year with a bang when he faces the 24-0 Jaime Munguia in the undefeated former world champion’s divisional debut. “It’s great to have this opportunity,” O’Sullivan says. “I relish this.” Some may argue the odds are stacked against the Cork, Ireland native heading into the January 11th Munguia fight. Munguia, after all, is taller, and over ten years younger, than O’Sullivan. What’s more, the fight is being held at San Antonio’s Alamodome, very close to Munguia’s native Mexico. O’Sullivan, however, is quietly confident.
“I’ve fought many people in their back yards,” he says. Plus, he has a genuine respect for Mexican fans, whose passion for boxing has remained strong through the sport’s ups and downs. He also has respect for Mexican fighters, and their famous come-forward style, a style he himself if known to employ in the ring. If anything, the battle with Munguia should be a colorful one. “I’m looking forward to it,” O’Sullivan says. It’s clear the man’s telling the truth, for O’Sullivan has proven he’s nothing if not a fighter willing to face the odds head on.
A prime example of this willingness was O’Sullivan’s quick return to the ring after being knocked out by David Lemieux in 2018. Many fighters might take a considerable amount of time off before slipping back in between the ropes. O’Sullivan got back in the ring as soon as possible, beating Gabor Gorbics less than three months after the Lemieux fight. “I wanted to get back in the ring,” O’Sullivan says. Although he credits Lemiuex with winning fair and square, O’Sullivan feels he could have truly won their battle. “If he hadn’t landed that punch,” he says, “I would have won that fight.”
The thirty-five year old isn’t planning on making any mistakes when he faces Munguia in a few weeks. He’s aware of the trouble Dennis Hogan gave the then WBO super welterweight champion last April by being able to land effectively on Munguia. “I believe,” O’Sullivan tells me after I bring up the fact Hogan doesn’t hit as hard as he does, “I definitely punch harder than Hogan.” Of course, Munguia punches hard himself, which is one of the reasons why O’Sullivan is working to enter the ring in prime form. I ask if he’s set up camp in his native Cork. “I’m training actually in Dublin,” he tells me, explaining that he returns to his family in Cork when camp is done for the week. It’s not an easy life, but O’Sullivan knows boxing isn’t an easy endeavor – and Munguia isn’t an easy opponent.
O’Sullivan does have an ace up his sleeve, however, when it comes to finding success in the toughest of sports: the fact that he’s colorful, both in and out of the ring. Whether he’s donning a handlebar mustache, offering a quick quip on a conference call or engaging aggressively in the ring, O’Sullivan is a fighter fans like to see in action. “I think it comes naturally to me,” he says of his persona. “It’s not a show.” Still, the fighter is looking to put on quite a performance when he faces Munguia on the 11th. The night should be anything but dull.