O’Reilly eyes St. Patrick’s Day knockout
Alexandra Scaffidi, FightON
Josh O’Reilly is looking to stay busy in 2018, emerging not just as one of Canada’s best young lightweights, but a prospect that fighters around the world need to look out for.
O’Reilly (10-0) looks to defend his International Boxing Association (IBA) Intercontinental Lightweight title against Juan Bedolla Orozco on Saturday, March 17 at United Boxing Promotion’s St. Patrick’s Day card at the Hershey Center in Mississauga. The bout will be O’Reilly’s first since capturing the title in October of 2017 with a fifth-round knockout of Oscar Arjona.
Growing up, O’Reilly would watch boxing and catch replays of fights on TSN. His grandfather was a boxer who would often tell him stories of his fighting days. In his youth, O’Reilly participated in basketball and hockey, before trading in his hockey gloves for something a little bit thicker: boxing gloves.
“My grandpa would always tell me some of his old stories because he was a boxer. I was also a pretty competitive, scrappy kid when I was younger. I loved boxing and fighting in general,” O’Reilly said. “I wanted to do something that would let me compete against guys my own size and boxing has weight classes so high school came and I started boxing.”
Once O’Reilly began training at Steeltown Boxing Club under coach Bob Wilcox, he was hooked. He had a busy amateur career, winning multiple national titles and two silver medals at the provincial level. He ended his amateur career with just over 100 fights under his belt before turning pro in 2014.
“I train there a few days a week when I have fights coming up,” O’Reilly said. “We got a lot of pros in the gym right now that are doing big things. Everyone’s got a little bit of a chip on their shoulder and we feed off that.”
O’Reilly has trained at Grants MMA & Boxing Gym under Ryan Grant in preparation for his fights. He's also spent time working with former Olympian Billy Irwin, trying to gather skills from as many talented trainers as he can.
“He’s (Irwin) just a really smart guy. His coaching style matches up well with the way that I want to fight and the way I’m trying to fight and we click,” O’Reilly said. “We’re obviously working on hitting the body, Billy Irwin is good at that. I’m hitting people very well to the body right now.”
During his professional career, O’Reilly has grown as an athlete and performer in the ring. Throughout his first few bouts, O’Reilly was banking unanimous decision victories back-to-back, utilizing his skills to outwork overmatched opponents. Now we’ve seen him progress to finishing his opponents in four of his last five fights. O’Reilly recognizes what it means to be a “fan-friendly” fighter and aims to continue working for finishes.
Not only is O’Reilly a professional athlete but he is also a full time student at Mohawk College. Between balancing a normal training schedule and fight camps he is also currently working toward the completion of a massage therapy program.
However, O’Reilly’s focus is zoned in on his opponent. Without looking past his opponent, O’Reilly has specific goals for the next year of his boxing career.
“I’m hoping I can get on in May again,” O’Reilly said. “There’s a few local fights in the area. We can make them be great fights. Guys with similar experience, fight for a Canadian title, fight for some type of domestic title. By the end of the year I would like to be setting up to do some things internationally by the beginning of next year.”
Photos courtesy of United Boxing Promotions and Mark Ruddick Photography.