Sean O'Bradaigh.

O'Bradaigh to get big support at Garden on Thursday night

With four big wins under his belt, unattached Sean O'Bradaigh bids for one of the most prestigious titles in U.S. amateur boxing this Thursday night when he fights in the Ring Masters/Golden Gloves middleweight final at Madison Square Garden. The 21-year-old faces Israel Bailey from the Southbox Gym in the Bronx, in the senior novice category.

Although unattached in this tournament because his club didn't register with USA Boxing Metro this year, O'Bradaigh could well be one of the night’s most supported fighters. As of last week, some 250 fans were expected to troop to the Garden’s 5,600 capacity Hulu Theater to cheer him on to victory. 

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Success for O'Bradaigh and the other finalists will mean more than coveted Ring Masters championship rings. This year’s tournament serves as a qualifier to the National Golden Gloves in Pennsylvania next month, which in turn will serve as an Olympic qualifier for USA Boxing. 

Trained by Angel Rivera, O'Bradaigh, whose dad is a Trinity College Dublin alumnus, goes into the 165-lb final in fine form. “I had to win four fights to get to the Garden, which I'm pretty sure is tied for most out of anyone competing this year,” said the New York University junior. “I beat Julian Yepes from Woodside Boxing Club on Feb. 4 by unanimous decision; Paul Rello from Westbury Boxing Gym on March 3 by unanimous decision; Izaiah Lexis from Gym X on March 11 by unanimous decision, and Mohamed Aly from Gleason's Gym by split decision on April 1.”

On his Ring Masters debut last year, O'Bradaigh reached the quarterfinals where he lost a close fight by split decision.

He’s been lacing on the gloves since age 13, but only started boxing competitively two years ago.

“I was always very competitive, and I see combat as the purest form of competition,” he said. “You never feel more alive than in the ring because you're vulnerable in that someone else who is trained is trying to hurt you and you have to defend yourself and beat them. You are 100 percent alert and awake to make sure that you come out unscathed and victorious.

“No one boxed in my family, but my grand uncle [Ruairi O'Bradaigh] was the chief of staff of the Irish Republican Army and many of my ancestors fought for Irish freedom and independence so in that sense, I come from a family of fighters.”

O'Bradaigh considers himself infinitely more of a technician than a slugger or brawler. At 6-foot-1 inch, he’s tall for a middleweight and uses his height and reach to his advantage in the ring, not letting opponents get close.

“I throw a lot of counter punches and stay light on my feet to never let my opponent set his feet to throw power punches. I also have very fast hands. I almost always have the speed advantage over my opponents. I also got my first knockdown during this tournament so I'm developing more and more power.”

No surprise then, considering his style and ring philosophy, that O'Bradaigh’s favorite boxers are Roy Jones Jr., the late Pernell Whittaker, Prince Naseem Hamed and Josh Kelly.

McCrory stops foe, goes 14-0

 “Fearless” Feargal McCrory dished out the pain on hard-hitting Eduardo Pereira Dos Reis at the 2300 Arena in Philadelphia last Friday. The tall Tyrone lightweight decked the Brazilian knockout artist four times in the opening three rounds before referee Harvey Dock stopped the beatdown at 2:06 of the third stanza.

McCrory, who later flew back to Ireland, upped his record to 14-0 [7 KOs].  Dos Reis, who’d entered the ring with 19 KOs to his name, dropped to 24-12. 

“I caught him with a good body shot in the first round and noticed that he was hurt, so I went back out and done it again in the second and dropped him heavily twice. I was surprised he got up and kept fighting on. Fair play to him. He was game and really wanted the win,” said McCrory. “In the third round I dropped him for a third time and he still got up.  But the next time the fight was over.”

Feargal McCrory.

Breaking down the fight – his third straight contest States-side since last September – McCrory said: “I was hitting him with rights and setting him up for the left, so he was waiting on the right and the first left to the body put him down. The left to the body dropped him twice in the second round.

“In the third round, I dropped him first with a right to the body and then [finished him] with a left.”

McCrory is scheduled back to his Woodlawn, Bronx, base in three weeks time ahead of his next fight. “My team is working hard behind the scenes for a big [match]. We want it to be in New York, that's where I want to be from now on,” he told the Echo.