Boxing


Boston’s Danny O’Connor to Face Daniel Sostre on the Outskirts of Fenway Park

boxingby Pavel Yakovlev - (5/21/12) - This Thursday, Boston junior-welterweight Danny O’Connor fights in his hometown for the first time in three years. An alternate on the 2008 U.S. Olympic team and top prospect in his weight class, O’Connor will face New York’s Daniel Sostre in a scheduled ten rounder. The match takes place at the House of Blues on Lansdowne Avenue, just outside the walls of Fenway Park, the home stadium of the Boston Red Sox. With baseball season underway and the New York Yankees scheduled to visit in a month, the card is fittingly billed as “Boston vs. New York” in pro boxing.

The significance of the fight’s venue is not lost on O’Connor. “The only thing that would top this is fighting inside of Fenway Park,” he said. The 27-year-old describes himself as “a baseball fan and a big Red Sox fan,” and is emotionally primed to fight before an expected standing-room only crowd at the House of Blues. “It’s absolutely a dream to be able to fight in Boston,” he said. “Anytime I’m able to showcase my talent before my friends and family, it’s amazing.”

O’Connor (16-1; four KO’s) last fought in this city in 2009, when he outpointed Sebastien Hamel. These days he divides his time between Boston and Houston, where he trains at the Savannah Boxing Gym under top-flight coach Ronnie Shields. The pair have been working together since last July.. “Training with Ronnie is a dream come true…that he would be willing to work with me,” states O’Connor. “I’m learning every second that I’m around him, both as a fighter and as a person.”

Shields is turning O’Connor into more of an offensive fighter, while simultaneously expanding and improving his defensive skills. Before he started with Shields, O’Connor won fights by relying exclusively on defense and boxing skill. He tended to deemphasize aggression, preferring to exhaust his opponents by making them miss punches, while simultaneously accumulating points with right jabs (he is southpaw) and light counters. Now, O’Connor fights with bad intentions: he purposely aims to hurt the other guy. “We’re morphing my natural style into more of a professional style,” says O’Connor. “I’m not wasting movement, and my punches count for more now.”

An ex-pro fighter who twice challenged for a world title, Shields has trained many boxing stars of the last 20 years. Shields observes, “Danny should have way more knockouts than he has now, but he just hasn’t shown that side of himself. He was always told that he didn’t have a punch, but he’s really a lot stronger than they told him. I’m teaching him to sit on his punches, and I’m making him put punches together more.”

But Shields is quick to add that his innovations are not tantamount to turning O’Connor – an instinctive boxer – into a brawler. “I’m making Danny realize that he doesn’t have to run from everybody. I’m showing him how to make the other guy miss so he can counter,” he said. “Before, he was always a guy who went backwards, or side-to-side…that’s what he relied on to win. But you can’t fight every style that way. Sometimes you have to change. He only knew one way to fight. Now he knows several different ways.”

Shields emphasizes that although he is teaching O’Connor offense, airtight defense is still key. “I’m showing Danny how to catch, how to slip, how to counter,” he explains. “When you see him next, you’re going to see a huge difference.”

Noteworthy, too, is that O’Connor has a new manager: Ken Casey, the bass guitarist and vocalist for the Celtic punk band Dropkick Murphys. Of his association with Casey, O’Connor states, “I’m blessed that I met him, he’s been so helpful to me. A lot of his supporters from Dropkick Murphys are my fans now. I call them the ‘Fan Family’ because that’s on the Twitter hash site. That’s an extra motivating factor.”

O’Connor and Shields both agree that the opponent, Daniel Sostre, is not to be taken lightly, and rightly so. A close study of Sostre’s record and analysis of his fight films suggest that he is no push-over.

A native of Puerto Rico who now lives in Highland, New York, Sostre is 11-5-1 (four KO’s). His record probably belies his ability, as three of his losses occurred in his first few pro bouts, while he was starting to learn his craft. Sostre’s most important achievement to date is forcing a draw against Damian Frias (a former WBC Fecarbox champion) in the latter’s hometown of Miami. Sostre has never been stopped as a pro.

But O’Connor has definitely done his homework. “I’m a student of the game,” he says. “With my coach Ronnie Shields, I watch as many of Sostre’s films as possible. I know a lot about him. I think he’s a tough fighter.” Shields added, “Sostre is a really good fighter.”

The event’s semi-final will feature unbeaten super-featherweight Ryan Kielczewski (12-0; two KO’s) in an eight rounder against former IBF featherweight champ Eric Aiken (16-9; four KO’s). Kielczewski is a Bostonian known for his fast hands, combination punching, and mobile boxing tactics. Aiken, from Washington D.C., is by far Kielczewski’s toughest opponent to date.

VENUE AND TICKET INFORMATION: The O’Connor-Sostre match headlines a five bout card scheduled for Thursday, May 24th, at the House of Blues Boston. Doors open at 7pm. House of Blues Boston is located at 15 Lansdowne Avenue in Boston (General Inquiries: 888-693-2583). The venue is accessible via trolley by taking the Green Line, B, C, or D branches, and getting off at the Kenmore Square station. For those driving, use the Boston Parking Search Engine at http://boston.bestparking.com/index.php for a list of nearby parking lots. Ticket prices range from $35 to $300 at http://www.houseofblues.com/tickets/eventdetail.php?eventid=74842. The boxing card is promoted by DiBella Entertainment, http://www.dbe1.com/. Fans can follow Danny O’Connor on Twitter via @doc_boxing.

Article posted on 22.05.2012



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