Irish heavyweight Niall Kennedy of Gorey, County Wexford, Ireland works as a police officer (aka garda) for the national service, and fights on the side.
Kennedy landed an opportunity to make a bit of a splash, as he's slated to meet Alen Babic on the Joshua Buatsi vs. Marko Calic undercard Sunday, October 4, shown live on Sky Sports and DAZN.
Kennedy (13-1-1, 8 KOs) tasted the first defeat of his career to Devin Vargas at the MGM Springfield in Massachusetts last year, with the referee stopping the fight in the fifth round.
I messaged with the Gorey man and asked him how he's feeling, and looking at this scrap:
“I'm mentally a 10, this fight has happened at a perfect time for me,” Kennedy said. “I've trained very hard and will be extremely fit. Yes, I will be underdog but there is loads of bite in this dog, my friend. I can't wait. I believe I've answered questions he hasn't seen before and experience will be key. It's exciting, I can't wait for it!”
Click here, for a story on how Kennedy and family were handling the first wave of COVID.
Babic shared his mindset on his Instagram:
“‘Savage' is an old school pugilist who will stop at nothing to give the crowd what they want,” he said. “Most of you are better than him in most, if not all of the areas. Second to last in school, slept in fucked up places, has virtually no possessions. He would be just another thug if not for the love to the most difficult sport in the world. I gave up every friend, girl, anyone who was in my way. You think friends and girls, wives, families are your strength. I will show you that in the ring, there is nothing more powerful than a lone wolf, a merciless savage. My eyes fixed on the prize. My mind strong and without weakness. We continue the journey very soon. My army!? Go and call them out for me, choose my fights and make them enter the ring, together we are invincible!”
The 36-year-old Kennedy leapt at the chance to share the ring with ‘The Savage,' whose stock in the heavyweight division rose dramatically following his emphatic two-round destruction of Shawndell Winters on the final weekend of Matchroom Fight Camp.
Croatia's Babic has warned that his alter ego will continue to cause havoc in the heavyweight division, and has set his sites on a showdown with his countryman Filip Hrgovic, but Kennedy, a garda in Wicklow, insists that he has nothing to fear when it comes to facing the former doorman.
“He has gone about his business in his own way,” Kennedy told Seconds Out. “He’s going about it loud alright! He likes talking. He’s a promoter’s dream. He’s doing well and he’s stopping his opponents. He’s getting rid of everyone very quickly, but he hasn’t fought a big man yet.
“I’m not a massive heavyweight but I’m a big man in comparison to what he’s fought so far. I think he thinks I’m turning up for a pay day. I’m actually looking at Alen Babic as a way to get to bigger pay days.
“He presents an opportunity for me to showcase my skills in England. He is what he is, a loudmouth. You can’t argue with what he’s done so far, he’s been very good. I’m looking forward to it. I’m not going over there to make up the numbers. I’m going over there to sell myself.
“It’s a fantastic chance for me to showcase what I can do. I’m not a fool, my last fight was a loss. Those close to me know why it was a loss and how it happened. A loss is a loss no less, and it’s on my record as an L. This is a great opportunity on a big stage to fix that.
“It’s going to be a fun fight. He’s going to be in front of me. I don’t think I’m going to have to send a search party to look for him. He’s going to be in front of me for the whole of the fight and as long as it lasts. I’ll be there. I won’t be found wanting.
“He’ll need to prove things to himself. He’ll have to go through the trenches that night and he’ll ask himself questions. I’ve already answered a lot of the questions that he’s in doubt of. I’ve been hit by big 18 stone heavyweights.
“I have nothing to fear from Alen Babic. I have no reason to fear anything. His ‘Savage’ persona has got everyone talking about him, so well done. His ‘Savage’ persona could skyrocket my career off the Richter Scale as well. Keep talking Mr Babic!”
Babic vs. Kennedy is part of a big night of action that sees Croydon's rising Light-Heavyweight star Joshua Buatsi (12-0, 10 KOs) defend his WBA International Title against undefeated Croat Marko Calic (11-0, 6 KOs), Chantelle Cameron (12-0, 7 KOs) lands a World Title shot in her very first fight as a Matchroom fighter as she takes on Brazil’s Adriana Dos Santos Araujo (6-0, 1 KO) for the vacant WBC Super-Lightweight crown, Luton’s Linus Udofia (15-0, 7 KOs) puts his English Middleweight Title on the line for the first time against Dillian Whyte-backed Brixton man John Harding Jr (8-1-1, 2 KOs), Aqib Fiaz (5-0) and Kane Baker (13-6) look to settle the score after their Fight Camp disappointment and recent Matchroom signing John Hedges make his pro debut at Super-Middleweight.