EDMONTON — A tough fight almost went the distance for Red Deer’s Cam O’Connell, but he wore down his opponent over the eight rounds and stopped him in the final round.
O’Connell, who hasn’t lost a fight yet, faced his toughest test on Saturday. His adversary was the younger, but experienced Bence Molnar of Hungary.
The two fought at the Shaw Conference Centre on Saturday and it was O’Connell who emerged victorious after an eighth round referee stoppage, a technical knockout win.
The Red Deer lightweight boxer called it a “substantial win” against a tough opponent.
“I’ve fought a couple of tough guys in the last year and this was comparable,” said O’Connell. “But this guy had a lot more boxing skill and not just power. He boxed.
“He was younger than me and I felt that in the ring.”
Molnar, 20, came into the bout with a 16-7-0 record while O’Connell had a 10-0-1. Using the speed and agility of a younger man and the skills of a seasoned veteran, Molnar gave O’Connell a tough test. But the 27-year-old O’Connell was up to the test.
“I established my jab in the first couple of rounds and broke down the body early,” said O’Connell. “I fell away from the body shots in the fourth round because it was getting easier to hit him in the head. He was dropping his hands to protect his body.
“We hurt him lots every round and it kind of took away from what we were working on because so many of those shots would have put down anybody else. He wouldn’t go down.”
At the end of the seventh round, O’Connell went hard and thought the fight would be stopped because the referee was right there and thought he would jump in.
“He (Molnar) was saved by the bell,” said O’Connell.
“We came out hard in the next round and stopped him with 1:20 to go in the round.”
It was the final round of bout.
The win was the culmination of a 10-week training period, but O’Connell admits the preparation never ends. Despite a 30-day fight suspension for his previous bout, done to protect the health of a fighter in a match that lasts six rounds or more, he is already preparing and training for his next fight.
“I learned a lot,” said O’Connell. “I can establish my jab on pretty much anyone, it’s my go to. Then once I get to comfortable with my jab I start dropping my hands and throwing power.
“He was quick and hit me with a lot of stuff. The biggest thing I learned was to keep my hands up even if I’m landing all the big shots because some guys can survive through it.”
Helping O’Connell out was a good number of Red Deer fans who trekked up to Edmonton for the fight. He said he was grateful for the support.
“It was awesome to come out to the ring and have everybody from Red Deer cheering me on,” he said.
With the win, O’Connell climbs up the rankings and, though he admits there’s nothing in the works yet, he has had offers to fight for a title, but doesn’t have an opponent yet.