Cam O’Connell insisted he was in no hurry to end his scrap with Mexican lightweight Luis Arjona Friday night at the Sheraton Hotel Exhibition Hall.
“In my last fight I ran in hard. This fight . . . I wanted to plant my feet early. I wanted to box,” said O’Connell, after defeating Arjona by technical knockout in the main event of the three-fight professional portion of the Tuff Glove card.
The Red Deer boxer felt that he could take his time, that Arjona was unlikely to hurt him anytime soon.
“I knew as soon as he threw his first punch and it came over, that it was just a matter of time,” said O’Connell, who improved his pro record to 4-0-1 after dropping Arjona twice, the decisive uppercut coming with just a few seconds left in the third round.
“The straight ones always beat the round ones. He got me a couple of times while I was throwing round ones and I heard my coach (Doug Bolianatz) telling me to straighten them out.”
After a close opening round, O’Connell realized he had to set the pace and try to end the bout.
Bolianatz had a suggestion.
“He told me to stick the jab,” said O’Connell. “I knew the jab was working but sometimes I don’t believe in my jab as much as I should. I should have thrown it more. I was landing but I wanted a knockout and you can’t knock someone out with a jab. I knew it was making his head go back but I also knew I wasn’t going to knock him out with it.”
Naturally, O’Connell was the crowd favourite in his first pro fight at home.
“It was amazing. I could take the voices from the crowd and put a face to everyone,” he insisted. “Every time I landed a punch I’d hear a ‘yeah’ from one side and it was my wife. From another side, it was Arash Usmanee’s little brother (Sleeman). It was perfect.”
His performance wasn’t perfect, yet it was impressive considering he’s still learning the pro side of the fight game.
“I’m happy with it, but I’m negative with myself, that’s how I build myself to be better. There were punches I shouldn’t have thrown, like the overhand right. That was sloppy,” said O’Connell. “I shouldn’t have waited a round before throwing an uppercut.
“This was my fifth (pro) fight and I just keep working at it. This is the beginning of a good thing. Red Deer came out tonight and supported me 100 per cent. I hope next time it’s busier with a lot more people, but I love fighting for Red Deer. It’s a fighting city. I felt the support and I loved it.”
O’Connell is set to fight again in September in Edmonton.
“They (promoters) are saying that I’ll be fighting a European,” he said. “Hopefully that will be a good one and then I hear talk that I could get a Canadian title shot sometime soon.”
Eventually, O’Connell wants to emulate the level of former Red Deer Boxing Club teammate Arash Usmanee, who is set to fight Argeniz Mendez for a world lightweight championship in August.
“I want to follow in his steps and get to the top, although at a bit younger age,” said O’Connell, who at 24 is seven years younger than the Montreal-based Usmanee.
“But I want to continue to box out of Red Deer. As long as I get the support here I can go to training camps in the states or wherever I have to go.”
In the co-main event of the pro card, Tennessee fighter Kevin Council (4-0) defeated Ted Reno of Calgary (3-7-2) by unanimous decision in a four-round junior middleweight bout.
Earlier, Polish-born welterweight Lukasz Wierzbicki of Calgary dominated Vancouver’s Antonio Dos Santos (2-7) while making his pro debut in front of roughly 20 vocal supporters.
In the main event of the amateur portion of the card, Red Deer’ Brian Samuel lost a unanimous decision to provincial 65 kg elite open champion Devin Reti of Calgary.
In the first amateur bout of the evening, provincial 50 kg junior C champ Lester Cudillio of Red Deer gave up at least four inches in height to Wolfgang Pederson of Medicine Hat, but delivered some devastating punches and forced a third-round stoppage.
Provincial champion Cole Farwell of Red Deer then defeated Danny Vo of Edmonton by unanimous decision in a 65 kg youth bout, and Robbie Cusine of Edmonton followed with a split decision victory over Gwyn Lewis of Calgary in a 65 kg elite open bout.