DARRAGH Foley has made a habit out of continually seeking the best fights on paper.
His latest date appears to be no different, with the charismatic Irishman topping a stacked St Patrick Day’s bill at The Star in Sydney as part of the second instalment of the Johnny Lewis Fight Series against world rated Canadian Steven Wilcox in a regional title unification.
The 29-year-old will attempt to unify his WBA Oceania bauble with the NABA strap presently held by Wilcox (18-2-1, 5 KOs), who is in the midst of a three-fight win streak, including an avenged defeat against Mexican Oscar Arjona. Despite being based on opposite sides of the globe, Foley (14-2, 8 KOs) has noticed an uncanny trend with his opponent.
“He seems like he is acting a little out of character,” said Foley in an interview with Aus-Boxing.
“He has been talking a load of nonsense. Hopefully he continues to act out of character and we might have a good fight on our hands. He calls himself the piranha, hopefully he comes into the ring with the mentality of a piranha and not a floppy little gold fish.”
Given his laid-back demeanour and deceptively casual approach to his fights, there’s no mistaking the determination of Foley, who has broken into the WBA’s top ten on the back of a signature 2017 campaign. While his initial thoughts were relaxed in their nature, there’s a noticeably shift in his tone when discussing the stakes.
“I’m taking this very serious, you have got to at this level,” he retorted. “I’ve watched him, he’s like a good boxer and is very tall for the weight. His trainer was putting out some rubbish about levels. He’s not on a different level to me when it comes to his resume. I think there are four or five guys on my resume that he wouldn’t have gotten through.”
“In saying that, I train like every fight is for a world title. The stakes are real, I can’t afford any slip ups. I’ve put myself through ten or eleven weeks of the grind. Right now I’m feeling great.”
“I’m on fire and I have that electricity pulsing through me, I’m ready to do the business.”
It only takes one look at the relocated Irishman’s resume to see the upward trend when assessing the quality of his recent opposition. Foley acknowledges that the better his opponent, the better he will be for facing them. And while he may not secure the world class challenges he seeks with every fight, Foley continues to push for the best available.
“I want these acid tests on paper, which are 50/50 fights,” he continued. “I want to prove that I belong in those rankings. It’s only going to help me in the long run when those big fights do come along.”
“Wilcox is taking this real serious, they have been here for a few weeks. He has a full team, along with sparring partners – I do believe that he is acting out of character – and maybe he’s a bit shaken. He’s fighting on the other side of the world. What’s he going to be like when he comes in there at the weigh-in? When he gets to the casino and there are thousands of Irish crying for his blood.”
“Maybe the occasion will get to him based on the nonsense he and his team are coming out with.”
The St Patrick’s Day event will be the first time Foley has competed professionally on the culturally significant milestone. With the Irish numbers increasing with each outing – between both combatants and followers – the event itself is something that Foley carries with great pride, particularly with the enormity of his regional title unification.
“I’m very proud to be headlining on St Patrick’s Day,” Foley declared. “What an honour it is and I feel a sense of pride to be spearheading this card on the day the world turns green. I will summon all the power and courage from my forefathers and fight with the same tenacity and fierceness in battle. I’m extremely proud.”
“I’m collecting my old man from the airport, it’s the first time he has seen me fight professionally and the first time he has been outside Europe. I’m really looking forward to it. I’m really focused on the task ahead.”
Foley vs. Wilcox is the main event of the Johnny Lewis Fight Series at The Star, which will be live streamed on Saturday here.
Photo: Louie Abigail