THE BIG BANG, Pierce O’Leary and big banger ’Sugar’ Kane Gardner will fight in what promises to be a thrilling collision with O’Leary’s WBC International super lightweight title at stake at the OVO Arena, Wembley on September 23.
Dublin’s undefeated O’Leary (12-0, 7 KOs) and Beswick’s Kane (16-2, 7 KOs) will trade bombs as part of a bumper undercard supporting the heavyweight rematch between Zhilei Zhang and Joe Joyce, a show which also features the return of Anthony Yarde in light heavyweight action against Ricky Summers along with super middleweight star Zach Parker.
The 23-year-old O’Leary, in what will be his fourth battle as a Queensberry fighter, won his WBC belt with a comprehensive points victory over Emmanuel Mungandjela in November of last year, before making a spectacular first defence in Belfast, destroying Alin Florin Ciorceri in 71 seconds back in May.
Gardner, 28, will come into the fight off a run of four straight wins and two significant triumphs. In May of last year he travelled north to Glasgow as the away fighter to take on the highly-rated Marios Matamba and emerged victorious over 10 rounds before, in March, he overcame Conah Walker over eight in Bolton.
“Yeah it is a great fight, a really, really top one,” considered the iBox Gym-trained O’Leary on his forthcoming assignment. “The kid has got a great record, he is very experienced, and he knows what he’s doing.
“Listen, I am expecting a great fight. Of course I expect him to bring it, every fighter expects that regardless, whatever their record it, that is the nature of the sport. I expected it in my last fight, but I got there before he could do anything!
“I was very happy with my performance and I was expecting a tough fight. I was so focused, I did what I had to do and got him out much earlier than I thought I would.
“I will do exactly the same for this fight, stay focused and take it round by round. When I focus just on myself I bring out the best version of me.
“That I am in a tough fight like this shows the belief that Queensberry have in me. He has been in tough fights himself and he has made fights tough against journeymen. I am not a journeyman, I have got a great boxing IQ and, if I stop him, I will make a big, big statement.”
From an away corner perspective, Gardner views this fight as his own breakthrough opportunity on a major television platform.
“It is what I wanted and what I need,” said the Lancashire-based bomber. “I am more than ready for it. I haven’t been able to get anyone before and I have been turned down left, right and centre for a number of reasons.
“I am just happy that I have got a title fight now after seven years. I think I was put forward to fight Dalton Smith two or three times and they turned it away. It can be disheartening but I kept telling myself to stick at it and an opportunity would come.
“I have seen a bit of Pierce and I know he can punch a bit, but this is what I am in the game for. I don’t mind 50-50 fights, I have been in them before and it is what I want.
“I have been saying this is my breakthrough year and this fight will literally complete it. It can’t fail to be a good fight and I am never in a dull one, really.”