Northampton boxer Kieron Conway aims to end 2019 on a high as he squares up to Irish champion Craig O'Brien
Kieron Conway is aiming to end 2019 on a high when he takes on Irish champion Craig O’Brien in front of the Sky Sports cameras on Thursday night.
The Northampton boxer has enjoyed a busy 12 months that has seen him substantially raise his profile.
A drawn British title fight with champion Ted Cheeseman, four victories, and a narrow defeat to eventual winner Derrick Osaze in the semi-final of the Ulitmate Boxxer contest at the O2 in London add up to a ‘roller-coaster ride of a year’ for 23-year-old Conway.
But his career is very much on the upward curve, and he is keen to maintain that against O’Brien when the pair meet in a super-welterweight contest over 10 rounds in the Matchroom NXTGEN fight night at York Hall in London, which is being broadcast live on Sky Sports Action from 7pm.
O’Brien’s professional career record of 11 wins and one loss is not dissimilar to Conway’s record of 11 wins, one draw and one loss, and although the Northampton man knows he has to respect his 30-year-old opponent, he goes into the fight full of confidence as he strives to set up a second British title fight chance.
“He’s a good fighter, he has only lost once and that was to (Commonwealth gold medalist) Anthony Fowler who is ranked highly,” said Conway of O’Brien.
“He is going to be tricky at first, because of his boxing style, but I will pick him down.
“He likes to move around a lot, flick his punches and stay out of exchanges, so he will be difficult to get to for the first round or two, but I won’t take long to get to him.”
Conway has had a little more than four weeks to study Dubliner O’Brien’s style, and added: “I have seen a couple of videos, but there aren’t lots to work from because a lot of them are against people he is meant to beat, so you don’t take anything from that.
“But he has had some meaningful fights to claim the Irish title, so I know what he going to bring.
"And I am ready for whatever he brings, or what anybody brings. I am adaptable, and I am ready.”
The fight will take place at the iconic York Hall in Bethnal Green, and although Conway admits the venue leaves a lot to be desired behind the scenes, once he gets in the ring he feels right at home.
"I really like it there," said Conway. "I don't like the changing rooms, they are tiny and hot, they are nasty.
"But the venue itself is good, you get a good atmosphere, everybody is close to the ring, and it seems to bring out some good fights.
"I have boxed there quite a few times there now, as an amateur and a pro, and it is almost like a second home to me because I have boxed there so much."
And as he prepares for his final fight of the year, Conway added: “It would be great to round off 2019 with a win, as it has been a bit of a roller-coaster year in patches.
“But it has been a good year overall, and things have worked out well. I am improving every camp, and things are good.”
The boxer's main ambition at the moment is to become Northampton's first male British professional champion, something he almost achieved only for the judges to score his fight with Cheeseman in the summer as a draw.
That bout has given Conway the taste for more though, and the clash with O'Brien is the next step along the way to him getting that chance.
"I 100 per cent want another fight for the British title in 2020," said Conway, who started his career as an amateur at Kings Heath Boxing Club.
"I just have to keep winning fights, and I will be in position."
Conway's clash with O'Brien is one of nine fights scheduled for York Hall on Thursday, with the main event being the British Cruiserweight title fight between Richard Riakporhe and Jack Massey, and the WBO Global Welterweight title bout between Luther Clay and Freddy Kiwitt.
Conway and O'Brien are ranked as the third biggest fight on the bill.