The ‘Beast From the East’ tried its best to derail a historic night of boxing on Saturday but it was Roy Sheahan who stormed the Irish pro boxing scene at the National Stadium.
Sheahan, the four-time senior national champion, put on a masterclass to win the inaugural Last Man Standing competition and is now in line for a crack at the Irish title – or a clash with Conor McGregor!
The tournament win guarantees Sheahan a tilt at the Irish middleweight strap, currently held by Luke Keeler, but Sheahan called McGregor out on Saturday night and the MMA superstar has responded.
Sheahan told Ray Moylette in the ring, live on TG4 after his win that “if Conor McGregor wants a go, no problem!”
‘The Notorious’ was quick to respond, saying on social media: “No problem, no f***ing problem”.
Sheahan told the Herald last night: “Conor McGregor said that I’d have to get into the cage with him if I want a go. I’ll get in the cage with him no problem, once he gets into the ring with me!”
It’s a clash that may never become a reality, but one fight that will, is Sheahan versus the Irish middleweight champ.
Sheahan, who moved from 1-0 to 4-0 on Saturday night having been working on a building site full-time just two months ago, is excited by the prospect.
“I’ve got to do a six-rounder and an eight rounder before then but it’s something that I’m very interested in.
“This win, from a financial perspective, is a big help to me. It’s a massive stepping stone to me giving the pro game a real go and, thank God, my job is still there for me.
“Most boxers will tell you how hard it is to get by when you’re starting out, so this is huge for me. But I’ll take a few days and then sit down and talk and we’ll go from there.”
On the subject of Irish champs, inner city Dubliner Craig O’Brien has come a long way in a short period of time and he added the green belt to his Celtic Nations title with a superb unanimous points win over fellow Dub Jay Byrne. ‘Iron’ O’Brien was revelling in his victory last night, trawling through the hundreds of messages of congratulations on his phone and social media accounts.
Perhaps the most important message of all came from the mother of his late, great friend, Glen - Angela.
Glen tragically passed away 10 years ago at 18 and O’Brien didn’t have a chance to visit Angela on Saturday before his bout. That was the usual routine.
“I was thinking, what if this means it will go against me, all that kind of stuff? But it obviously didn’t and I was delighted when Angela texted saying well done, that Glen was looking down on me,” he told the Herald.
O’Brien’s is a tale of triumph over adversary, and he feels his journey is only just beginning.
“I feel I’m ahead of my time. I really do.
“I’ve only been back properly for about a year and I’ve picked up two belts, but there’s so much improvement in me.
“I’m only 28 and I’ve loads to learn but I’m with a great coach in Paschal Collins and in a great gym at Celtic Warriors, so that will all come.
“I’m not going to get carried away with myself off the back of this win either. Obviously when the rankings come out I’ll be in Europe’s top 15 but I’m still learning and won’t get ahead of myself.
“But the experience of being in the main event on a historic night on live national TV will certainly stand to me and I can’t wait to see what the future holds.
“It’s been a hard road but this is just the beginning of my journey.”