O’Reilly readies for first headline gig

Shawn Smith
17/05/2017 7:44pm

Image courtesy of Mark Ruddick Photography

Shawn Smith speaks to super featherweight prospect Josh O'Reilly ahead of his latest bout, scheduled for Friday night in Mississauga, Ontario...

At 8-0, Ontario’s Josh O’Reilly has begun to make an impression on the Canadian boxing scene, showing an increasingly good skill set and the grit necessary to compete at the professional level.

On Friday 19 May, O’Reilly will headline his first card at Mississauga’s Hershey Centre, as he takes on Mexican journeyman Maximino Toala in a fight that should tell us a little bit more about how O’Reilly stacks up against some of North America’s other top prospects.

Having faced American prospect Devin Hanley and Quebec prospect Golden Garcia, Toala comes in as a fighter that is familiar to Canadian fight fans. If O’Reilly can prove dominant, or even force a stoppage victory, it will be a major step towards the championship level he aspires to.

“He’s a short, tough little Mexican,” O’Reilly said of Toala. “I don’t think he’s super technical. He lost to Golden Garcia, they went the distance. He throws hard punches but I’m the more technical fighter, I’m stronger. I’m better both inside and outside.”

O’Reilly is also much taller and customarily uses his long reach to stifle his opponent's offense and set up his own attacks. His build is like that of a Diego Corrales, but his fighting style is more technical. A thinking fighter, O’Reilly follows in the mould of other Steeltown Boxing Club fighters like Steven and Jessie Wilcox, using his reach, impressive footwork and combinations to win bouts.

What O’Reilly has really started to show in recent contests is his grit. After getting knocked down twice in a bout against Angel Sarinana in November 2016, O’Reilly rose back to his feet and stayed composed, earning a close unanimous decision.

“Josh is really coming into himself as a fighter,” said promoter Tyler Buxton. “He got dropped, but showed great focus, didn’t lose concentration. A lot of guys get dropped and they end up losing. He was dropped twice and got back to doing what he had to do. He didn’t take a step back. I believe he’s got some exciting fights in the future.”

Most recently, O’Reilly went on the road to Montreal’s Bell Centre, earning the second knockout of his career in a drubbing of Attila Csereklye.

Despite his next fight being his first headlining gig, O’Reilly said he’s not feeling any extra pressure.

“I don’t feel any added pressure; I don’t really care where I fight on the card. It’s a cool feeling, but I really don’t care when I am [on the card],” O’Reilly said. “There’s always a little bit of pressure on yourself. You always want to put on an entertaining fight and win.”

Becoming the third-ranked super featherweight hasn’t been easy for O’Reilly. While he had an interest in the sport from listening to his grandfather’s stories from the amateur days, his mother wouldn’t let him train as a youngster. He took up hockey and baseball for fear that he was too small to fight.

“I was never a natural at boxing, it was just something that I stuck with it,” O’Reilly said. “It wasn’t that I wasn’t good, but I was so small. My coach would put me in there with guys who were bigger and with more experience, but I tried to keep a good mentality about the sport. I knew that if I was stuck with it, I’d be the one who was always winning.”

So far, so good. O’Reilly will look to not only win, but do so impressively on 19 May.

As for what’s next? In the co-main event of United Promotions’ 19 May card is Mohammed Abedeen (6-0-1). If both fighters are victorious on Friday, Buxton said a bout between the two could be in the works.

“There’s rumbling of the Abedeen versus O’Reilly fight, that’s what the fans want to see,” Buxton said of a potential bout between the duo. “It’s going to be not too long before they want to prove who the lightweight prospect in Toronto area is.”

For his part, O’Reilly said he isn’t opposed. “I’ll fight anybody. If they want it, I’ll fight anybody,” O’Reilly said. “I don’t know if that fight will happen, but I’ll fight him.”

But first up is Maximino Toala.

For more information on the show, visit www.UnitedPromotions.ca