US Olympic Alternate Danny O’Connor Turning Pro in September
FRAMINGHAM, Mass. (June 20, 2008) – Many amateur boxers who do not qualify for national teams often develop into better pros than some Olympians. Contrasting styles and maturation processes often are contributing factors and 2008 U.S. Olympic first alternate Danny O’Connor could very well be the next example of a boxer becoming a better professional than amateur.
The 23-year-old O’Connor, winner of this year’s US Future Stars National Championship, in which he was named Most Outstanding Boxer, as well as the National Golden Gloves Tournament, both in the 141-pound light welterweight division. Danny lost to U.S. Olympian Javier Molina in the semifinals of the 2007 Championships, 21-20, and US Olympic Trials, 18-10. As a USA Boxing Team alternate, O’Connor lives and trains with the US Olympian and other alternates in Colorado Springs and he also is a stablemate of US Olympic welterweight Demetrious “Boo Boo” Andrade, the 2008 World Championships gold-medal winner. Danny will also travel next month to China with Team USA for the Olympic Games.
“I wanted an opportunity to be part of the Olympics,” O’Connor explained why he’s waiting until after the Olympic to turn pro. “I’m gaining a lot of valuable experience sparring with Molina and representing the United States in competitions against other countries. If this were not an Olympic year, I’d be the No. 1 rated light welterweight in the country because I have more points than Molina. But it’s an Olympic year and he’s rated No. 1 as the US Olympian. I hadn’t been fighting very long when I fought him in the Olympic Trials.”
O’Connor was a Massachusetts high school wrestling champion when he was a sophomore. The stylish southpaw that reminds some of a cross between a young Paul Spadafora and Winky Wright, offensively and defensively, respectively, had been training less than six months when he participated in his first national tournament in 2006.
A lifelong resident of Framingham (MA), Danny has gone from a 4-time New England Golden Gloves champion, winning the novice and open titles in his first time around the circuit, to recently being profiled in Sports Illustrated (Faces In The Crowd).
“Danny has improved immensely over the last nine months,” O’Connor’s coach DaveKeefe noted. “He’s going to be a real good pro prospect with a solid defense, great speed and a sharp body shot.”
Critics sometimes question the power of amateur boxers because points are determined by punches landed, not necessarily power shots putting opponents on the canvas, and scoring is the result of accumulated points as opposed to who hurts whom the most.
O’Connor is working on power punching with his coach at the 401 Gym in Rhode Island, where Andrade also trains. “I understand if some people feel that way but I do have power and I’m working with Dave to improve in that area,” Danny explained. “There are different styles between the amateurs and pros. In the amateurs you box for points and protect leads. It’s a lot different from fighting with eight-ounce gloves and no headgear. I watch boxers but have my own style. After the Olympics I’m going to turn pro, hopefully, in September. I want to be world champion, which is a dream I’ve had since the first time I put on a pair of gloves.”