By Chris Clark
“Spike” O’Sullivan is a man on a mission, the fighting pride of Cork, Ireland, is a middleweight prospect whose moving up the ranks at a rapid rate.
I spoke with “Spike” to find out more about the latest Celtic warrior.
Boxing Insider: Let’s get the formalities out of the way…is it Gary or Spike?
Gary O’Sullivan: Please call me Spike, it’s what people have been calling me since a kid, and it’s just stuck. Only my parents occasionally call me Gary.
Boxing Insider: So did the young Spike always want to be a boxer?
Gary O’Sullivan: Well my Dad took me to see Steve Collins v Chris Eubank at Millstreet (County Cork) in 1995, I was 11 years old at the time, and I was intoxicated by the atmosphere. I wanted, I dreamed to be Steve Collins. Man the atmosphere, the fans all cheering his name, it was amazing. Growing up I wished that was me, and now slowly but surely these things are happening to me.
Boxing Insider: Was it just Steve Collins who inspired you growing up?
Gary O’Sullivan: Oh no, I loved Evander Holyfield as well. The Real Deal, he was superb. Especially at heavyweight, he was obviously lighter than his opponents, but man he was tough, a real warrior.
My Dad used to wake me up at 4am to watch all the big fights from America in the 1990s. I bloody loved it watching these fights from Vegas and Madison Square Garden. You cannot believe what an amazing honour and privilege it was for me to fight Milton Nunez at the MSG. I had to pinch myself at times, I had goosebumps.
Boxing Insider: Going back a few years to your early career, you didn’t fight as much as you should?
Gary O’Sullivan: No I was very inactive, I was really frustrated.
Boxing Insider: You only had 7 fights in between 2010-2013
Gary O’Sullivan: Yes, it wasn’t a great time for me, however I still won the WBO International belt against Matthew Hall at Upton Park (July 2012). A lot of pundits expected me to lose that fight, but I’ve got great inner strength and I battled through. Certain people wanted me to lose that fight, but I showed them.
Boxing Insider: Your only defeat thus far came against Billy Joe Saunders in 2013 (losing on points)
Gary O’Sullivan: Yeah that was a tough fight, but I’d only fought once in a year, I was under-cooked. If I fought Billy Joe now, I’d give him a proper fight.
Boxing Insider: Hasn’t Billy Joe promised you a World Title shot, if he manages to win one?
Gary O’Sullivan: Yeah he has, and I’d beat him! I know I can, I’ve got the power to do it. Not being big-headed like, I can beat anyone. All I need is the opportunity, a lot of people are scared of me.
Boxing Insider: One person who wasn’t scared of you was Tommy Fitzgerald last year, what are your recollections of that fight?
Gary O’Sullivan: That fight all stemmed from a sparring session about 5 years ago, when I put him on his arse in front of all his mates in the gym. He’d been itching to get his own back for years.
Boxing Insider: Explain that kiss in the press conference?
Gary O’Sullivan: I could sense he was getting nervous, that’s why he pushed and slapped me. I didn’t want to push him back, so I kissed him on the cheek, to get inside his head a little bit.
Boxing Insider: The fight itself, you knocked him out in the 1st round. You made some money from that didn’t you?
Gary O’Sullivan: Yeah I had £100 on me to win in the 1st round, I knew I could do it if I could land some clean shots, no-one has power like me at Middleweight. Fitzgerald is no fool, he had taken Andy Lee the distance, but I knew I had the power to stop him.
Boxing Insider There was a lot of animosity around the ring, and a stool ended up being thrown at you.
Gary O’Sullivan: What people don’t realise about that, is that the stool actually grazed my arm…but these things happen. I was fighting in Dublin, in Fitzgerald’s back yard, and I’d put him on his arse, people are going to get upset. There’s a massive rivalry between Dublin and Cork in Ireland, it’s similar to the North and South in England, it’s huge.
Boxing Insider: Prior to this fight you’d had a change of manager, how did this come about?
Gary O’Sullivan: I was fighting Jose Medina in Boston, and man it was hot (July 2014) it was like 35c. I’m a Cork lad, I’m not used to that heat! I was blowing hard, but I was still fighting my aggressive style, and that’s what impressed Ken Casey (punk band Dropkick Murphy’s bassist) he said with this fighting style I would be huge in America. So we chatted and we hit it off.
Boxing Insider: Are you obliged to like Dropkick Murphy’s music now?
Gary O’Sullivan: I honestly had never listened to their stuff before, but I went to a few of their concerts, it was mental…mosh pits the lot, I fucking loved it.
Boxing Insider: So what kind of music do you normally like?
Gary O’Sullivan: I like a bit of everything from Rod Stewart, Lionel Ritchie to Rhianna. I go to a lot of concerts, I’ve got John Legend and Ed Sheeran coming up.
You can’t really come to the ring with Lionel Ritchie blaring out though.
Gary O’Sullivan: Haha no… last time out, I had the drums and everything. I loved it, it was brilliant. I was buzzing on the way out to the ring.
Boxing Insider: The American audience love the “Fighting Irish” and you’re fighting on the DeGale v Dirrell undercard at Fenway Park, Boston, that’s huge for you
Gary O’Sullivan: Oh yeah, fighting at that stadium and it’s on NBC, 23rd May. I don’t know my opponent as yet. I’ve got a great following in America now, I’ve made myself known at Dropkick Murphy gigs and my last fight was a sell out. The fans just love my aggressive style.
Boxing Insider: So what about future opponents, dare I bring up Chris Eubank Jnr?
Gary O’Sullivan: I’d fight that boy anywhere, we should have fought already but it wasn’t to be.
You’d literally fight him anywhere?
Gary O’Sullivan: I’d fight him in his dad’s back garden. I know I can beat him, I’d just love to smash him. When I’m World Champion I’d give him that world title shot he wants.
How about the two Matthew’s, Macklin and Murray?
Gary O’Sullivan: I’ve been close to fighting Matt Macklin three times, but it just hasn’t happened. Macklin’s from Tipperary, with me being from Cork that would be a huge fight for Irish boxing.
What about Murray, he didn’t disgrace himself against Golovkin?
Gary O’Sullivan: I helped Murray spar for that fight, and I have to say I felt comfortable in there with him.
I tell you what though, I’d beat Golovkin. I’ve watched his style, I know he couldn’t contend with my strength. That would be my dream fight. Two warriors going at it.
Then you’ve got the likes of Billy Joe and Andy Lee, there’s loads of great fights out there for me.
Boxing Insider: What do you do to unwind away from the ring?
Gary O’Sullivan: I have 3 lovely daughters, 11, 7 and 3 and they are my world.
Boxing Insider: 3 daughters, are you sure that’s unwinding?
Gary O’Sullivan: Haha! I can’t remember who said it, but a boxer who also has 3 daughters said he goes into the ring for a break!!
BoxingInsider: There’s another Irishman making it big in America, Conor McGregor. Is MMA something you’ve considered?
Gary O’Sullivan: It was something I thought about when I was inactive a few years back, but boxing is in my blood man, from all the way back to getting up at 4am with my Dad. That childhood dream is slowly becoming reality and I’m loving every minute of it.
Chris Clark is on Twitter – @chrisclark1975