CORK boxer Gary ‘Spike’ O’Sullivan believes it is his destiny to become world champion as he prepares to fight current WBA world middleweight titleholder Erislandy Lara at the Barclays Center in New York on Saturday night.
In his 35 fights to date, the ‘Celtic Rebel’ has won 31 with 21 of those coming by way of knockout but O’Sullivan, who turns 38 in the summer, in his first world title bout arguably faces his toughest opponent yet in the form of the 39-year old Cuban-American.
“It is the opportunity of a lifetime,” O’Sullivan told. “It’s something I have been dreaming of so I was never going to turn it down, no chance.
“I wasn’t so sure I would ever get this chance. I have been highly ranked for the last decade but with Covid and the way things were going I wasn’t so sure it would come.
“The fight came about at short notice, it was actually probably the shortest notice I have ever got for a fight really. It was only five weeks.
“But I was keeping fit the whole time with my coach so in the five weeks I was able to get very, very fit.
“I can put my hand on my heart and say that I have never trained harder in my life, I have never pushed myself this much.
“I have given it everything in training and I will do the same in the fight, I will give it all I have got. It’s going to be a very tough fight. I have obviously been studying him an awful lot, I have often heard him be regarded as one of the greatest boxers of all time.
“It will be a very tough task but I think it is my destiny to become the middleweight champion of the world.
O’Sullivan is likely to be roared on by a huge Cork following in Brooklyn on the night and the support of those closest to him is giving the boxer extra motivation to land the world crown.
“It would mean a lot just for my family, my coach, and my friends, I feel like I have a small soccer team with me,” he added.
“All these people have been supporting me for so long, they have been so loyal.
“I have been beaten a couple of times and I have come back but just to get to the pinnacle of the sport for all of them… you would see a lot of tears in grown men’s eyes.
“That is what is motivating me most. My mother, my father, my brothers, my children, and all my inlaws, I want to try and do it for all of them mostly.
“I have been getting loads of texts that this guy is going and that guy is going. One of the best ones was from Tom Kelleher who runs the Glen boxing club.
“He’s going and he’s about 80 years of age. He said it’s going to be his last time in the United States.
“He’s known me since I was about seven years of age. I was speaking to him recently but it was over 30 years since he said it to me that I had the best-left hand he had ever seen from a young fella of my age.
“I still remember it, it still sticks in my mind so to have people like that going is unbelievable.”