Cruiserweight duo Declan Trainor and Stephen Reynolds will battle it out for possession of the newly revamped Celtic Nations title in Belfast’s Devenish Complex on Saturday, September 14. Both men are currently 2-0 as professionals but that belies the vast amount of quality amateur experience that the pair bring to the ring. 25-year-old Trainor has so far lived up to his ‘Terminator’ moniker by dispatching both of his opponents in the opening round while 40-year-old ‘Block’ Reynolds has enjoyed a solid points win over Moses Matovu and a second round stoppage.
“I want the hard fights now, I wouldn’t turn any fight down so I won’t avoid Reynolds,” said Trainor, who trains in Belfast’s Kronk gym and is managed by Mark Dunlop. “Mark has delivered outside the ring and now it’s my time to deliver in the ring and chalk up another Kronk title. There’s a great buzz about the Kronk gym at the moment, all the boys are flying and there are some great prospects and talent. James Tennyson just won the Irish title and hopefully Dan McShane picks up his first title on this bill as well. So the energy is high and we are all looking to achieve our goals.”
Trainor has been sharpening the tools by sparring former Reynolds victim Matovu and the Warrenpoint man is not underestimating the threat posed by his well-supported opponent who will be bringing a sizeable fan base up from Sligo.
“I’m certainly not taking Reynolds for granted,” added Declan. “He is a five-time Irish senior champ and a very hard trainer who can bang with both hands. I’ll be wary of him for the first couple of rounds and let my boxing take over. It will be tit-for-tat for a while and then explode into a war. We both want it bad. I want it more.”
Meanwhile, Ballinacarrow man Reynolds -who competed at the World Boxing Championships way back in 2001, bowing out to eventual bronze medallist Sultan Ibragimov - is looking to sustain his late surge to title glory by tackling an opponent 15 years his junior.
“I got a great start to the pro game but it all went quiet in the last six months due to shows being called off and quality opponents not being available, but that’s all changed now and I’ve got the biggest challenge of my boxing career ahead of me against Declan Trainor for the Celtic Nations belt,” stated Reynolds. “My opening fight versus Matovu was a real eye opener to be honest. I knew the jump from amateur code to the pros was a big one and I learned on my debut not to underestimate these guys or it could be lights out.
“I know it’s a risky fight and a lot of people are making Trainor a favourite to beat me in Belfast but I haven’t got the time to hang around and fight soft opponents. At my stage I haven’t time to waste, I want the best in Ireland and I want them now. It’s a really evenly matched fight but I know my strength and experience will be enough to overcome Trainor’s speed and youth on the night.”
Reynolds’ manager Leonard Gunning, who is promoting the show alongside Mark Dunlop, reckons that despite his advancing years ‘Block’ can call upon a combination of superior strength and fitness to help the veteran prevail.
“Stephen has been a revelation since turning pro. No one comes into a pro ring in better condition than Stephen and I know how hard he works to get himself in that shape. We know he hasn’t got another 10 or 15 years left in his career like regular boxers who turn professional, so his acceleration through the ranks is on fast forward.
“It makes exciting viewing for the droves of supporters that travel from Sligo to watch his fights. This is a very risky fight for Stephen, he could have taken a much softer fight and built his record up to 10-0 but he is always pushing for hard fights and now he has gotten his wish,” said Gunning.
The ’Celtic Clash’ show also features 2010 Commonwealth Games gold medallist Paddy Gallagher who is looking to make up for a slow start to his career since handing in the vest and headguard. Gallagher is joined by former Irish title challenger Joe Hillerby as well as Belfast crowd pleaser Daniel ‘Insane’ McShane, the ‘Buncrana Banger’ John Hutchinson and Ireland’s only female pro boxer Christina McMahon. Oisin Fagan has also been added to the card.