News May 2007

McCraken sets O'Donnell record straight

12.05.07 - Trainer Robert McCracken and promoter Mick Hennessy still believe that Junior Olympic Gold Medallist and English Welterweight Champion John O’Donnell is a major talent, despite the inaccurately reported setback he suffered at the weekend. The just turned 21-year-old with strong Irish heritage lost to Christian Solano on the undercard of the Oscar de la Hoya-Floyd Mayweather mega-fight at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas..

Whilst the tough Mexican did stop O’Donnell in the second round, many accounts of the fight and it’s build up have been off the mark.

It has been suggested that Solano weighed in up to six pounds heavier the day before and that O’Donnell was either knocked out or that the referee took the decision to stop him. All are inaccurate.

“Solano did initially come in heavier than John,” explained Hennessy Sports team trainer Robert McCracken. “But he skipped off a few pounds and actually weighed-in at 148 1⁄4 lbs - just two pounds heavier. I can see where the confusion has come from; the weights were announced incorrectly on the night.

“It was just one of those fights. John starts slowly sometimes and I have warned him about it - it happened in the Elwell fight - but he just didn’t get going from the first bell. He didn’t use the jab that I know he can be so effective with.

“He got caught round the back of the head behind the ear in the first and it was pretty much over from then.

“He was caught cold and in that place that totally throws your equilibrium out. It was a bit of a freak punch and would probably never happen again if John boxed for another 1000 years. He has sparred world champions, been caught and never even blinked.


“He got through the round, but when he was put down in the second I asked the ringside officials to tell the referee to stop the fight. He had beaten the count quite easily, was up on his feet and wanted to carry on, but his balance was still way out. I didn’t want him to be giving away any more free shots.

“John is young. He’d stepped up to the plate to take on a decent opponent on a massive card and has suffered a setback. But he has years ahead of him yet. It might seem like it right now, but this is not the end of the world for him.

“He can definitely bounce back. He has learned a hard lesson, but sometimes that has to happen to when you are young. John has real natural talent and I still think that is going to shine through down the line.”

Promoter Mick Hennessy shares his team trainer’s optimism: “John still has our absolute backing. One defeat changes nothing,” he said. “Things like this can happen when a fighter gets caught cold and on the back of the head. Robert’s decision to pull him out was 100% correct; it’s always going to be safety first with us.

“This could be the making of him. Sometimes it’s the loss that makes the fighter. We are not preoccupied with undefeated records, boxing has a steep learning curve and there can be setbacks along the way, but that can help fighters prepare for the top level.

“Robert has been working on John’s slow starts and this is a harsh example of what can happen when you allow decent fighters to get close to you and throw big shots in the opening rounds. John has a great jab, if he starts to use it from the off he can be incredible.

“I said in the build-up to the fight that John has the potential to go on to become the biggest fighter with Irish heritage since Barry McGuigan. That is the amount of promise he has at this stage of his career. I still believe that he can fulfil it.”

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