Our Experts Decide: Bridges vs. O’Connell

THE biggest all-Aussie women’s world title fight is almost here.

After months of anticipation, IBF bantamweight champion Ebanie Bridges (8-1, 3 KOs) will defend her crown against rival Shannon O’Connell (23-6-1, 11 KOs) on Sunday morning in Leeds.

We spoke to a handful of industry experts to get their opinion on the high-stakes clash.

Stevie Spark, world rated light welterweight:

Bridges UD10 O’Connell: Great fight for women’s boxing, super excited for this fight. My pick is and still!

Bridges to win on points by unanimous decision. Great back-and-forth action but the champion, Ebanie will show why she’s the champion.

All the best to both girls and thanks for giving us all such a great match-up.

Michael Zerafa, WBA #1 middleweight:

Bridges TKO O’Connell: My prediction for the fight is that Bridges will be too tough and will keep walking O’Connell down.

If she keeps the pressure up, I truly believe she has the capability to stop her. Backing Bridges for the stoppage.

Will Tomlinson, former super featherweight titleholder:

Bridges W10 O’Connell: I like Ebanie in this one. She’s younger, fresher and will no doubt have the crowd behind her. I think Bridges takes it in a blood-bath.

Issac Hardman, world rated middleweight:

Bridges W10 O’Connell: I think Bridges wins this one, she’s proved she’s as tough as they come, and she’s a big puncher.

I don’t feel like she cares who and what Shannon has done, and I feel like O’Connell is bitter and too worked up over it. The emotions will play a part but in the fight.

Andrew Moloney, former WBA super flyweight champion:

O’Connell W10 Bridges: This is a great fight for Australian women’s boxing. It’s a fight I’m really looking forward to watching.

I believe the experience of Shannon will be the deciding factor in this fight. I feel that not having to travel and having fought in Leeds before will help Ebanie and help even out the fight a little.

But I believe Shannon’s experience and having fought much higher level of opposition will see her hand raised at the end of the fight.

Paul Fleming, world rated super featherweight:

O’Connell W10 Bridges: I think experience in the amateurs and the calibre of opponents Shannon has fought in the pros should be enough to get her the win.

Steve Scanlan, manager:

Bridges W10 O’Connell: Tough fight. If this fight was in Australia, I think O’Connell wins comfortably.

But with the travel to England, the emotion in the fight, coming back from a huge shoulder operation, it might be just a little too much. I’m predicting Bridges in a very close one.

Tony Tolj, promoter/manager:

Bridges UD10 O’Connell: I expect to be a cracking fight. I think it will be a close fight, and especially in front of a packed house in England with Bridges having sacrificed and basing herself there.

I think that will be the difference. Bridges by unanimous decision.

Chris McCullen, trainer:

O’Connell W10 Bridges: This should be a real cracker, with two girls that won’t take a backward step.

Shannon is real fighter, she has proven she’ll fight anyone anywhere, and that experience will give her the edge. But she can’t let the occasion get to her. Ignore all the hype and tension, and use her boxing skills first and foremost.

The power shots can come if she breaks Ebanie down. Ebanie will need to fight fire with fire, if that’s what Shannon goes with. I’m really looking forward to this fight and I think it’ll live up to the hype.

I’ve gotta go with big fight experience and pick Shannon on points.

Ben Savva, trainer:

O’Connell W10 Bridges: It’s a pick’em fight for me. It’s peak versus peak and I believe O’Connell wins all day, but the timing could be perfect for Bridges.

Shannon is creeping towards the final stages of her career and hasn’t been busy in recent times due to injuries and surgery. Ebanie is improving every fight, her confidence will be sky high, she’s had world class rounds over in the UK, and if the fight is close, it’ll go in favour of the home fighter.

There are so many variables that could come into play, but I’ll stick to my original prediction. I think O’Connell takes home a points decision thanks to her experience and overall skill-set.

Matt Clark, manager:

O’Connell W10 Bridges: A fight I’m genuinely looking forward to. It’s a real shame it’s in Leeds rather than Australia to be honest.

I like O’Connell on points but the judging in the UK can be iffy and Shannon is the away fighter here. Fingers crossed it turns out to be a great fight.

Marcos Amado, trainer:

Bridges W10 O’Connell: I think it’ll be an interesting fight, O’Connell brings experience and grit to the table where Bridges brings youth and power. I think Bridges wins in a close decision.

Photos: Provided