Weight loss proved no charm for Sean O'Bradaigh in his 165-pound Elite Six Boroughs Championship [SBC] match with Israel Bailey at the packed Melrose Ballroom in Long Island City, Queens, last week. Seemingly cruising to another close victory over the Bronx fighter he’d edged in New York Ring Masters/Golden Gloves middleweight novice final last spring, O'Bradaigh caught a hard right to the jaw in the third and final stanza.
He went down but shot up almost immediately -- albeit momentarily unsteady – prompting the referee to halt the fight at 2:26 of the last round. With the victory, Bailey avenged his Ring Masters loss to O'Bradaigh and retained his SBC title.
“I went down in weight to 165 pounds for this fight which I believe was a mistake,” conceded O'Bradaigh, who usually fights at 176 pounds.
“I was forced to deplete myself, only eating one meal a day, the few days leading up to the fight, as I was doing intense training. Couldn’t consume anything until 5 p.m. the day of the fight, but I don’t want to make that an excuse because I chose to go back down for this fight.
"Bailey and I are now 1-1 and I would love to have the grudge match down the line, but I won’t be going back to 165 pounds for it.
“I felt like I won the first two rounds by a small margin,” added O'Bradaigh, whose left hand – thrown mostly as a jab and at times as a counter hook – controlled the fight. “I thought I was 30 seconds away from winning the fight which is a difficult pill to swallow.”
On Bailey’s winning shot that the champion set up with a quick left jab, the 21 year-old Olympic prospect admitted that he was buzzed. But getting up quickly from the canvas might have been detrimental to his cause.
“I was definitely hurt by the punch, more than I’ve ever been hurt in my life,” he said. “It was hard to get my bearings once I got up because everything happened so quickly. They say not to get up too quickly when you get rocked because the body needs a few seconds to readjust.
"The ref obviously stopped it early but that’s what happens in amateur boxing. I know coming into these amateur fights that once a fighter is dropped, the fight is immediately in jeopardy considering the ref’s number-one concern is to look out for the boxers’ safety.
“I felt like I was controlling the distance but not as well as I would’ve liked. Instead of coming after me like I had anticipated, he was kind of trying to lure me in to land the shot he ended up being successful with.
“As for the punch itself, I had anticipated his overhand right as being his most dangerous weapon and I was right. I wish the ref could’ve let it go on, I definitely feel like I could’ve continued to fight. These things happen in this sport, one second you’re winning, the next the fight is over and you’ve lost. I can’t let this get into my head though, I need to keep moving forward.”
O'Bradaigh’s record now drops to 18-6, but this loss hasn’t deterred him from pursuing his Olympic dream. After twice coming close to qualifying for the final trials, he’s now applying for a wild-card slot that could eventually earn him a berth on the U.S. team to the Paris Games next summer.