A LIMERICK homeless service provider is hoping to turn some heads later this month when she makes her professional boxing debut.
Super featherweight Siobhán O’Leary is on the ‘Celtic Clash 7′ bill at the Good Counsel GAA Clubhouse in Dublin on Saturday, November 24 when she will become one of only six Irish women professionals boxers.
While Katie Taylor has been boxing as a young child and is one of the most technically talented boxers around, Siobhán O’Leary brings something different. A late convert to boxing, she brings raw power and aggression to the game and joins the professional ranks with a lot of expectation.
Explaining the reasoning behind the switch to the paid ranks, she said that while the amateur game had been good to her, the time was right to move forward.
“I got into boxing quite late through participation in a white collar boxing tournament with my former club Corpus Christi in Limerick. That was 2012. I absolutely fell in love with the sport through that and have boxed ever since. This decision wasn’t made lightly and I couldn’t do it without the support of my partner Maeve and my family and friends.”
Relocating to Dublin to train with former national champion Eddie Hyland, word is spreading about the power punching woman sparring with men and doing big numbers in the gym.
A full-time homeless services worker with St Vincent de Paul in Limerick, every spare minute goes into preparing for November 24.
“Progress is a little slow but it’s coming. Eddie and myself have gelled really well. Every time that I come up to Dublin, I feel like I’m learning something new. The biggest changes have to do with changing my style into a more pro style. Sitting down on my shots, relaxing a little more and moving the mind frame away from three rounds into longer fights.
“I like to respond to what’s in front of me and impose my style on my opponent.”
She is predicting a special night in Dublin in front of a few busloads of travelling fans.
“Limerick is a boxing city and with my own background in boxing over the last people just want to see you do well. I’m best when I’m under pressure. Of course I’m going to be nervous, there’d be something wrong if you weren’t. I’m looking forward to a big crowd, to getting under the lights and performing for my family and friends”
Manager Stephen Sharpe says he is “more than excited about Siobhán’s prospects. Boxing fans will like her, they will like her boxing style and they will like her attitude.
“The reaction she received was incredible and I’ve no doubt she will quickly become a fan favourite. It was an easy decision for us to work with Siobhán, we are always 100 per cent honest with fighters before we sign them. No promises that we can’t keep, just that we will work hard, work together and do our best by Siobhán and she was happy with that”.
And he explained how another Limerick professional boxer, Garryowen’s Graham McCormack, helped facilitate the move.
“I have known about Siobhán for a while. Graham McCormack had been telling me about her as they train together in Functional Fitness in Limerick.
“She had a very successful run in the amateurs and I’ve known for some time she hits like a mule, giving the Limerick lads hell sparring and I had enquired a couple of times what her plans were. Graham told me that she was seriously contemplating a switch to the pro-ranks and was weighing up her options.
“I was instantly impressed by her attitude and commitment. I knew she had boxing ability but that’s not all, Siobhán has substance, she is a highly intelligent, articulate and as determined as they come.”
In addition to Siobhán’s professional debut, the ’Celtic Clash 7′ bill on November 24 will feature two Irish title fights and six bouts on the undercard.