Boxing saved my life, says Ohara Davies, and I'll get Tyrone McKenna 'out of there' in Golden Contract final
WHERE would Ohara Davies be without boxing? Dead or in prison, admits the Londoner who predicts that he’ll get Belfast’s Tyrone McKenna “out of there” in night week’s light-welterweight Golden Contract final at York Hall.
After a life of violence, drug-abuse and criminality which he says would have led him to an early grave, Hackney-born Davies stumbled upon the sport aged 18. Now 28, his story is one of rags to the brink of riches because the winner of next week’s rumble will sign a lucrative, fight contract that could leave them financially secure for life.
“Before I got into boxing I had been involved in a lot of gang violence,” he explained.
“That’s the kind of background that I come from. I was in and out of court and I nearly went to jail.
“Luckily I avoided that and I said to myself at that point: ‘I’ve got to quit the drugs and all the smoking and I’ve got to focus on something’ and that ‘something’ was boxing.
“Boxing saved my life, one thousand per cent. If I wasn’t boxing today I’d either be dead or in jail. Boxing was a life-saver for me and it’s about to make me very successful so I’m forever thankful.”
A dangerous puncher the two losses on the Londonder’s 20-2 career came against Jack Catterall and Josh Taylor. These days he is working with former British super-featherweight champion Kevin Mitchell and says he is in great shape for the York Hall battle.
“Prep has gone great,” he said.
“I’m in the best shape of my life, I’ve had a really long camp but a really good camp and I feel like I’ve gone back to my old ways.
“My sprint work and my sparring has been good. It’s been a perfect camp and so for this fight I’m going to be spiteful, I’m going to be fast and I’m going to be sharp. You’re going to see the best Ohara Davies.”
At the semi-final stage back in February, Davies accounted for Jeff Ofori while McKenna got the decision against Mohamed Mimoune. Davies insists that he needs to be better for next week’s final.
“I did ok that night,” said Davies.
“If I fought Tyrone McKenna on that performance I think I would struggle quite a bit but with the shape that I’m in now, there’ll be no issue taking care of him.
“But I think he (McKenna) fought a good fight that night.
“Tyrone McKenna is a fit, strong, tall, rangy southpaw so, even though I felt like he didn’t win the fight, he’s still a fighter that I can’t overlook. I knew I had to be in the best shape and expect the best Tyrone McKenna to turn up for the final. It’s the biggest fight of his career and it’s definitely going to be the hardest fight of his career.
“I’m so confident that I’ll be too much for him and I will be very disappointed if I don’t get him out of there.”
McKenna insists the bad blood between him and Davies is genuine but the Londoner, perhaps in an attempt to keep his mind clear for the fight, says it has all been blown out of proportion.
“It’s not that we don’t get on – he tries to make it something that it isn’t,” he says.
“I basically got approached the wrong way (by McKenna) at the York Hall and I reacted accordingly – if it was anyone else who approached me that way I would have done the same thing. So it’s nothing against him, I feel like I got approached a bit disrespectfully and he was a bit too close in my personal space.”
It’ll be different next week of course. There’ll be no ‘personal space’ between the ropes and the man who wins will walk away with a deal that could see them go on to world title level. Davies insists that he hasn’t thought that far ahead.
“I’m not looking beyond McKenna,” he said.
“I’m not thinking about the five-fight deal because that’s a mistake I’ve made in the past. I don’t care about the deal as of now, my only goal is to make sure I take care of this next fight.
“I’ve got to put all the stuff that happened to the back of my head and focus. I won’t let emotion come into it or let anything get in the way – I’ve got a job to do and I’m going to do it well.
“I’m not thinking about a world title or this belt, or that belt. I’m just thinking about this fight.”
The McKenna-Davies final takes place on the same night as the featherweight final between Ryan Walsh and Jazza Dickens and there is also a light-heavyweight semi-final between Liam Conroy and Serge Michel on the undercard.
The other light-heavyweight semi-final sees Hosea Burton travel to Latvia to take on Ricards Bolotniks on September 26, with that fight broadcast live on IFL TV.
SEAN Duffy will box Jamie Quinn in his first six-rounder on the undercard of Josh Taylor’s WBA and IBF light-welterweight title defence against Thailand’s Apinan Kongsong at York Hall on Saturday night.
Keady native Duffy has been working with stablemate Anto Cacace in the build-up to ‘The Apache’s’ first defence of his British super-featherweight title on October 10 and was able to take the fight at short notice. As a gym owner and fitness instructor, he is always in good shape and says he’s ready to rumble in London.
“The fight was brought to me and Harry (Hawkins, his trainer) on Friday and it was confirmed this morning,” he said yesterday.
“I’ve been training with Cacace so I’m sharp and I’m always ready to go. Jamie Quinn is an experienced journeyman and it’s over six rounds so it’ll be my first time doing that as a professional.”
The longer distance will suit Duffy’s all-action, high-tempo style and Quinn will find it difficult to keep up with the pace on Saturday night. The Armagh native hasn’t fought since October when he moved smoothly through the gears to win on points against Edwin Tellez.
“Being part of the Cacace team and seeing how well he’s doing, inspires you to get in there and get going,” he said.
“I’m ready to go. I know Josh (Taylor) from the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and I’m looking forward to meeting him again. I like to be in the mix with the big shows, I think it’ll bring the best out of me. I enjoy the nerves and the whole build-up and although it’s behind closed doors I’m looking forward to boxing at the famous York Hall.
“The goal is to get this one and hopefully another one before Christmas and that will get the ball rolling for next year. This time next year I’d like to have a title of some form.”