Split decision success
Gorey's Niall Kennedy, a Garda based in Wicklow town, defied his underdog tag to defeat Alexis Santos on a split decision to claim the New England heavyweight title at Foxwoods Casino in Conneticut on Friday night.
Kennedy remains undefeated, having won his nine contests, and condemned the American prospect to just his second loss in his 20th professional bout.
The Wicklow-based Garda started in aggressive fashion and pressed home his advantage in the opening three rounds before Santos made inroads on Kennedy's resolute defence.
Both fighters clearly tired before the Irishman rallied in the final round, getting in the crucial blows to swing enough judges his way.
Two judges awarded the fight 96-93 in favour of Kennedy, while one judge awarded the contest on the same scoreline to the American.
The 33-year-old Gorey native trains under Paschal Collins at his Celtic Warriors gym in Corduff, Dublin, commuting from Wicklow and Gorey for his work-outs before he travelled to the U.S. for his big fight.
Earlier in the week, Kennedy said: 'It was demanding to be honest,' on his preparation. 'You're training twice a day and trying to work 12-hour shifts in between it as well.'
Kennedy followed in the footsteps of champions such as Vitali Klitschko, Gennady Golovkin and Paulie Malignaggi in headlining a 'Broadway Boxing' card, which regularly features highly-rated prospects and contenders.
'It was a headline fight against a very good opponent. It was a lifetime's work coming to fruition,' the Gorey man said.
'Santos is in the middle top 50 in the world (No. 36 with the WBC). He is looked upon as a boxer with massive potential, very well regarded in American boxing and seen as a real prospect. Taking his scalp is a massive name on my record.
'Unless you are an Olympian or you have a promoter chasing you down, you have to go the longer way about making your name. Each fight I've taken has been a step up and this was another one,' added Kennedy who is balancing a demanding schedule between training and his day job.