Monday, December 04, 2023  |


Danny O’Connor adapts

Fighters Network
The word came last Friday that Paul Malignaggi was cut in sparring and the fight was off and Danny O’Connor didn’t kick the dog or shoot a hole in the TV or weep a “Woe is me” ballad. The Framingham, Massachusetts, welterweight basically shrugged and went into a mode he knows well: Adapt and overcome.

“My promoter, Ken Casey called me and told me Paul was cut,” Danny O (25-2, 9 knockouts) told me as he counted down to the Saturday scrap in Boston, against a subbed-in foe, Chris Gilbert (12-1, 9 KOs). “I was in between training sessions at my house. Was I annoyed? As soon as he said it, I said to myself, I can’t control life but I can control how I react to things. I know I possess the tools mentally to adapt and overcome.”

One of the adaptations is this: Gilbert is a straightforward, come-forward sort. He isn’t any sort the slickee Paulie is; that, actually, is seen as a plus to O’Connor, who prefers to fight the fighter/presser type.

“Yeah, luckily, I’ve had a fight materialize on short notice in Boston,” said O’Connor, who had prepped himself to be up against Paulie rooters at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

So no, he didn’t get down, feel bedeviled; O’Connor told me he’s most in a flow when he’s in the ring and he was simply happy to get a chance to not waste his training. He said when he signed on with Casey about three years ago, they decided they wanted to help bring big-time boxing and that attendant buzz back to Red Sox Nation. “In the ring is where I feel most alive. People are excited for the event,” the boxer told me. “We had that goal starting out and hopefully, this is just one of many cards coming to the city.”

The Massachusetts state belt will be up for grabs, so that’s a small, lil’ added bonus. “As for Gilbert, if I do what I need to do, it doesn’t matter what he has,” said O’Connor, who is trained by Hector Bermudez. “All in all, adapt and overcome is what I’m thinking. I’m not worried about the change from Malignaggi; I’m a versatile fighter.”

He sees commercials running on local TV, hears ads for the card, to run at the Agganis Center, on radio. Posters are everywhere and it is clear Premier Boxing Champions is doing its damnedest to manufacture interest. O’Connor is excited to test out the arena, which he’s stepped into while taking his boy, Liam, age 4, to “Disney On Ice.” “Every time I’d go past there, I’d nudge my wife [Diane, who is preggers with their second, which is due in September) and tell her that would be a great venue for boxing. So it’s weird how life works out. In a couple hours, we’re going to a press conference for the card at Fenway Park and I recall going there with my dad to see the Red Sox, since I was a little kid. It’s an excited, different feeling. It means a lot.”


NOTE: The TV fights, to run on NBC, are Edwin Rodriguez-Craig Baker, in a 10-round light heavyweight fight, and Andre Dirrell vs. James DeGale, two super middles, in the main event. Show starts at 4:30 PM ET. O’Connor fans will have to hit the venue.


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