Connor Coyle hoping sun will continue to shine on pro career later in 2020

Connor Coyle stops Danny Pastrana to win the NBA intercontinental middleweight title in Florida two years ago. The Derry man may not be heading back to the Sunshine State any time soon, but hopes to be back in the ring before the end of the year. Picture by Fire Fist Boxing
Neil Loughran

RIGHT about now, Connor Coyle would probably have either been in Florida, or he’d be getting ready to pack his bags for another six week stint in the Sunshine State. Since turning pro four years ago, this has been the rhythm of the Derry man’s career.

Instead though, the heavy-handed middleweight is back home in Derry, cradling four week old son Cálaeb in his arms and wondering what his next move will be.

Coyle’s last outing was on January 30 in Toppenish, a stoppage win over Miguel Dumas. He was due to be back in Washington in April, bidding to extend his unbeaten record to 13-0, but the Covid-19 pandemic had other ideas.

With Florida’s confirmed coronavirus cases rising by a record 11,458 on Saturday - the second time in three days the caseload has increased by more than 10,000 – it looks highly unlikely he will be heading back out there any time soon.

Indeed, Coyle is just thankful he was in Derry when the spread accelerated earlier this year, otherwise he could have found himself stranded Stateside.

“I see it’s spiking over there again. Even if I get a fight date, I’ll just do my training here with Cahir Duffy from my old amateur club [St Joseph’s],” said the 30-year-old, who also has a four-year-old daughter, Clodagh-Rose.

“Normally I’d be over there three or four times a year, getting ready for fights. That’s where my camps are finished off with my coach in Florida.

“I’m just glad I’m here with my family and friends, with the weans - if I was stuck over there I don’t know how I would’ve coped. It’s bad enough being away six or eight weeks at a time, never mind six months.

“We don’t have a fight scheduled yet at the minute so it’s just a case of ticking over for now until we hear something.”

The hope is that he could get out again later this year, perhaps around October or November, though that will be dictated by events beyond his control.

But when he does step back between the ropes, an interested and instantly recognisable observer will have taken his seat in the front row, yards from the kind of arena he used to light up with his slick skills.

Coyle is promoted by former four weight world champion Roy Jones jr, a son of Pensacola in Florida, and the future Hall of Famer has had some words of wisdom for the Derry fighter as he guides his career.

“Roy is there at all my fights, front row. I chat away to him all the time, he’s a nice fella, and he gives me advice.

“The first fight he saw me in was April 2019 in Vegas, they had seen me in February and signed me up then. After the last fight in January he said he was glad to see I was listening and taking on board his advice.

“It’s good to get that kind of feedback from a legend of the game.”

The fight Coyle had scheduled for April was to be for the North American Boxing Federation (NABF) title, previously held by Donegal’s Jason Quigley.

It would have been a big step up, and a huge opportunity to open doors onto the world stage. For now though, like most others, he will just have to wait.

However, before heading out to finish camp in Florida before his last fight, Coyle did some rounds with middleweight rivals Quigley and Dublin’s world title challenger Luke Keeler. Those sessions gave him a good sense of where he was, heading into a crucial stage of his pro career.

“I got on good,” added Coyle, a Commonwealth Games bronze medallist in 2014.

“Obviously we’re the same weight division… when you spar somebody in your own weight division and they could possibly be competition down the line, it’s going to be an intense spar. I don’t want to say too much, but it was good sparring for all of us.

“The fight I was due to have in April was for the NABF title, and if I won that I could end up in the top 10 in the world, maybe top five, with the WBC. It’s all big fights from there, so the next fight for me is going to huge.

“Once I get into the top 10 it’ll all be hard fights, but that’s what you want. That’s the level I want to be moving into now.”

And that could lead to those spars with the likes of Quigley and Keeler, as well as other potential domestic dust-ups, being played out on a bigger stage. For now though, Coyle is keeping his cards close to his chest.

“My promoters have a plan for me, but they just keep me focused on a fight at a time. Whoever they put in front of me, I’ll fight.

“Something like that could possibly happen down the line, who knows? It would be good to have a domestic fight, maybe even a world title challenge in Ireland.

“I like fighting away, I feel like I’m a different person over there, I’m more switched on when I get away to camp. When I was an amateur boxing in Dublin, I messed around too long but I’m 100 per cent focused on the professional game now and I want to go as far as I can and push towards a world title.”

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