It’s a known fact among Massachusetts boxing fans, when Danny “Bhoy” O’Connor fights in Boston, he draws a rowdy crowd of devout followers known as “Clan O’Connor,” who have had his back since he was first adopted by Murphys Boxing and owner Ken Casey back in 2012.
The scene was set at the historical Memorial Hall in Melrose, MA, and when the Irish bagpipes and drums sounded off–signaling the entrance of the hometown favorite–the beer soaked crowd nearly took the roof off of the old place.
In just his second fight back since taking a year off while contemplating retirement, O’Connor (25-2-0, 9 KOs) took on journeyman gatekeeper, Michael Clark (44-13-1, 18 KOs).
Clark was coming into the bout riding a four-fight losing streak to such top contenders as Edgar Santana, Sadam Ali, Jamie Kavanagh and Dusty Hernandez-Harrison.
The Framingham, MA native O’Connor established an effective jab in the opening moments of the first round, while fighting off Clark who seemed determined to make a statement early in the fight.
O’Connor’s defense and counter punching proved too crafty for the veteran Clark, and after just 1:15 of the first round, O’Connor landed a walloping right hook that put Clark down for good.
Now with two comeback fights out of the way, it seems the right time for O’Connor to take a step up in competition and attempt to work his way into the rankings.
He signed with Al Haymon earlier in 2015, now combine that with his talented hard-to-hit style and an established New England fan base, and it’s safe to say that O’Connor’s career currently sits on a launch pad of opportunity–crafting a classic tale of the blue-collar boxer who holds the fate of his destiny in his own hands.
In the co-main event of the night, Canadian Super Featherwweight contender and newest Murphys Boxing signee Logan McGuinness (22-0-1, 10 KOs) scored a dominating first-round knockout win over the Dominican Republic’s Carlos Fulgencio (19-16-1, 12 KOs).
McGuinness came out with a relentless pressure attack on Fulgencio, knocking him down three times, the third which was convincing enough for Fulgencio to stay down giving McGuinness his 22nd professional win.
Fulgencio, who has had a tough time of it lately having not won a fight since 2011, was coming off a first-round knockout loss to Ryan Kielczewski back in February 2015.
McGuinness, who draws big crowds in Canada, brings great depth to the Murphys Boxing roster, opening up possible future cards north of the border.
Also on the card, hard-hitting Middleweight prospect Mark DeLuca (13-0-0, 10 KOs) stopped journeyman Larry Smith Jr. (11-26-1, 7 KO’s) with a hard right hand in the sixth and final round of a one-way fight.
DeLuca, a U.S. Marine and Veteran, has sparred with Welterweight contender Shawn Porter in the past, and the hard work paid off Friday night.
By switching back and forth between an orthodox and a southpaw stance, DeLuca kept Smith guessing, while working inside on the taller fighter, landing stiff lead jabs and vicious body shots that could be felt up in the press box.
Smith, who did more dancing than boxing throughout the fight, hit the canvas three times including twice in the fifth round, first from a body shot, then again with just seconds left before the bell from a slugging overhand right.
DeLuca smelled blood in the water, putting Smith down for the third and final time just moments into the last round with a hard right hand, forcing the referee to jump in and stop the fight.
The pride of Whitman, Massachusetts has all the tools of a future 160-pound contender, and now with super adviser Al Haymon backing him, is one of the more promising Middleweight prospects coming up in the sport today.
All photos by Paul Caulfield