As far as making a professional boxing debut goes, upsetting the odds to knock out your opponent in just 96 seconds would usually justify it being a satisfying one to say the least.
That’s exactly the scenario Gateshead debutant Paul O’Hagan found himself on Saturday after scoring a 96 second TKO victory over Glenn McCrory protegé Akash Hussein, and yet the cruiserweight has been left feeling disappointed.
The 25 year-old said of his debut: “I was happy with the win obviously, but not with the manner of it. I picked ‘Cash’ because of his pedigree and how highly Sky Sports and Glenn McCrory rated him and thought we could have a right ‘ding-dong’ in my first pro fight.
“I wanted a tough challenge against a more experienced fighter. I want to earn my wins, not rob people on home shows or fight uninterested journeymen. That didn’t go to plan though and it disappointed me.”
Promoter Steve Wraith knows Paul well because he would fight on Steve’s bills on the White-collar scene. When Steve gained his professional promotional licence Paul says it was natural for the two to turn to each other again as they both trust each other now.
As a promoter, Steve want fighters who please crowds and that’s exactly how he described O’Hagan before the fight. The debutant was quick and ruthless at the O2 taking just 96 seconds to knock Hussein down twice as the two brawled in the centre and then forced the referee to stop the fight as he hounded his opponent with pressure.
Most would view this a fantastic performance but when asked what he thought of his performance, Paul said:
“I don’t think I performed at all; I never even got the chance to step through the gears. Whether he underestimated me, overestimated himself, or both, I don’t know,but I caught him cold as I tried to see the round out and dominate.
“I didn’t actually get into the ‘war’ I promised straight away. People may say I was explosive but if you ever saw me prior to this you’d notice I was actually reigned in and a lot more composed than usual. I trained really hard for this fight and never got to show any of what my trainer Micky Duncan has worked on with me.”
Duncan incidentally was a boxer himself, boxing 30 times between 1989 and 1993. He retired with a record of 10 wins, 18 defeats and 2 draws. His most notable fight was a second round knock out defeat at the hands of former welterweight world champion and great Llyod Honeyghan.
For Paul, Duncan is a fantastic coach who he says because of his experience, when he talks, you listen. Duncan has also worked with many of the regions top fighters including the Dickinson brothers. Paul now has friendships with the two as well as boxers including the Ward brothers from Durham and says he is constantly receiving advice from them that really helps him.
Regarding his future it is fair to say Paul is a modest man. He admits he is not going to ever be a world champion and seems to worry more about pleasing his fans than anything else.
“I’m not sure about the future to be honest,” Paul explains. “I live life at 100-mph and I’ve ticked something off my bucket list in turning pro and I’m just going to enjoy every training, sparring and fighting session I have until my body or mind tells me that’s enough. I don’t want to be and really can’t be judged on this fight. It wasn’t a fight. It wasn’t even a round, so I need to be weathered to what the pro game is really like, I need some tough tests and to learn from every mistake, loss and victory, and give it the best shot I can.
“I’m never going to be world champion but you have got to have some sort of aim. I don’t know what mine is yet though. I’ve past the first hurdle in making my debut and getting a win against a prospect, next up is just to see how I cope when I get taken the distance, or take a pasting myself. I’m learning and listening all the time and I can only aim to get better and grow from this.”
One thing is for certain, if all of Paul’s fights are as interesting as his debut, then we expect no shortage of fights in the future for him as promoters will love having this crowd pleaser on their show.