There is definitely an international flavor to Saturday’s Golden Boy Promotions’ card emanating from Boston’s House of Blues. The four fighters competing in the two 10-round headliners are from Ireland, United Kingdom, Philippines and Belguim.
Gary “Spike” O’Sullivan, from Cork, will be facing Liverpool’s Nick “The Machine” Quigley in a middleweight bout. In the junior lightweight co-feature, Filipino Reckay “The Terror” Dulay takes on Dardan Zenunaj, who is of Albanian heritage but was born in Kosovo and moved to Belgium with his family when he was three years old.
The 33-year-old O’Sullivan has campaigned extensively in the United States, starting with his second pro bout, a first-round stoppage of Robert Harris in Boston on Sept. 15, 2008. Seven of his 10 most recent fights have also been in the U.S, where he draws support from the large Irish-American population in the New England area.
The son of a career soldier, O’Sullivan was only 5 years old when his father took him to the gym. Like his brothers Niall, Luke and George, Gary was the Irish national champion as an amateur.
“I’ve been checking Nick Quigley out. He looks OK, he’s got a good record, but he’s a guy I expect to beat.”
Gary “Spike” O’Sullivan
“I’m the only one still boxing. Rumor has it that I’m a distant relative of John L. Sullivan,” said O’Sullivan who often sports a handlebar mustache similar to the one worn by the “Great John L.”
O’Sullivan (25-2, 17 KOs) has twice stepped up in class and suffered his two pro defeats, losing a 12-round decision to Billy Joe Sanders in 2013 and suffering a seventh-round TKO loss to Chris Eubank Jr. in 2015. Since the loss to Eubank, O’Sullivan has put together a three-bout winning streak against modest competition.
“I’ve been checking Nick Quigley out,” O’Sullivan said. “He looks OK, he’s got a good record, but he’s a guy I expect to beat.”
Quigley (15-2, 3 KOs) is having his first fight in 19 months and his first outside the U.K. The lengthy layoff was due to managerial problems.
“My last fight was a long time ago — it feels like a lifetime ago,” Quigley said. “I had a lot of bad luck with my former manager. I just got messed about a hell of a lot. It was frustrating for me, as you can imagine. But I’m committed to the game. I’ll stick with it and I’m strong-willed. I stay in the gym, I stay fit and I keep my weight reasonably low, waiting for a chance. This is my big chance to show the world what I can do.”
O’Sullivan is going to be a tough test for the Quigley. Only three of the 29-year-old Englishman’s foes had won their previous bout, and two of them, Robert Lloyd Taylor and Erick Ochieng, handed him his only defeats.
If he is going to win, Quigley probably will have to make good use of his height advantage, a lofty 6-foot-2 compared to O’Sullivan’s 5-10.
“O’Sullivan is very tough and very game. He’s an aggressive, come-forward fighter. I’ve got a lot of respect for him. He’s got a chin of steel and he’s got a big heart, as well,” Quigley said. “It’s going to be a tough fight. I sense a bit of a war, to be honest with you, but it is what it is and I look forward to getting in the ring with him.”
Both Dulay and Zenunaj need to win impressively. They’ve already suffered setbacks and another defeat could put the loser perilously close to permanent “opponent” status.
Dulay (10-2, 7 KOs) had his most impressive win in his most recent fight, when he knocked out previously undefeated Jamie Arbleda on July 15 at the Forum in Inglewood, California. A flush right hand to the head in the third round put Arbleda down for the full count.
It was the 23-year-old Filipino’s second KO victory since being stopped by Gervonta Davis in September 2015. He has been training at Leo Santa Cruz’s gym in Montebello, California, for the Zenunaj fight, where he has had quality sparring with Santa Cruz.
“I’m a boxer, a counterpuncher,” the hard-hitting Dulay said. “I think this is going to be an easy fight for me.”
Zenunaj (13-3, 10 KOs) might have something to say about that.
“I have Mexican style. I like the war,” Zenunaj said. “I’m going to give it everything I’ve got and it will be a war.”
Zenunaj, who has been campaigning in the U.S. since 2015, suffered back-to-back defeats in 2016, losing decisions to Tevin Farmer and Jose Salinas. He bounced back this year with second-round knockout of Amiran Abuladze in Belgium last February.
Since returning to the U.S., Zenunja has been trained by Joe Goossen, who will be working his corner for the first time against Dulay.
Zenunaj’s best win came in December 2015 against Bryant Cruz, who came into the bout with a perfect 16-0 record. He took the fight on one-week’s notice, scored two knockdowns and bloodied his adversary’s mouth before Cruz’s corner stopped the fight at the end of the seventh round.
“He wants to be the first Albanian world champion,” said Mike Levy, Zenunaj’s manager. “He’s 30 years old, it’s not like he’s a kid. He just wants to do whatever it takes to get to that world title as quickly as possible.”