My trainer is Buddy McGirt. Buddy is a native New Yorker and was a terrific fighter. He won world titles in two weight divisions in the 80's and 90's. He was a very smart, slick fighter and he brings all that experience and knowledge to bear as a trainer.
How has your experience been of New York so far?
Even before I lived here I always loved visiting New York and living here hasn't done anything to change my view of the city. It's just an incredibly diverse place and it's been great to actually have the opportunity to live here. I already had friends and relations living here and I love going out of places like The Bronx, Yonkers and Queens to catch up with them.
All the girls are asking: Are you single or looking for a relationship?
(Laughs) I'm single right now. Being a professional boxer means that I lead a pretty nomadic existence. I've traveled the world with boxing and a lot of the time I’m away in training camp so it's a lifestyle that's not really suited to settling down. It's definitely something I want to do because it can be a lonely life but to succeed in boxing you have to be willing to put your career first above everything else. For example being single meant that uprooting and relocating to New York was not really an issue for me, I know other boxers from back home who wouldn't have been able to do that because of family commitments.
How is the training going for the big fight?
It's gone great, at this point all the hard work is done and it's just a case of tapering down. Then the last week is all about monitoring your weight and fine tuning the strategy. It's a middleweight fight so I can't be any more than 160 pounds for the weigh-in on the day before. I'm pretty much on the weight already so that's not a concern for me.
Run us through a regular day for you at the moment?
I try to vary the sessions a bit to keep things interesting, for example I will change the type of runs I do on a daily basis, in the gym I will spar on certain days and then other days I work the pads with Buddy, so I always try to keep it as varied as possible so that I don't get stale. Also for a fight of this magnitude there is a lot of media interest especially as the fight gets closer so there are a lot of interviews, photo shoots and stuff like that.
What skills are you bringing to the ring that Martinez doesn’t have?
We're both very different fighters. Martinez is a very fast, slick southpaw. He's very hard to pin down and he fights in an unorthodox style so his punches come from strange angles and he depends on his reflexes for defense. When you are fighting somebody like that it's vital that you don't fight their fight and use your own strengths and skills. I'm a much bigger, naturally stronger guy and people who have sparred both myself and Sergio have said that I hit much harder. I have a great engine so I can set a very hard pace from the first bell and maintain it for all 12 rounds if needed and I have a good boxing brain as well so I'm able to think on my feet in there.
Do you consider this the biggest fight of your career?
Undoubtedly, outside of Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao, Sergio Martinez is considered one of the best fighters in the world pound for pound so winning this fight would be life-changing for me. I've won the Irish title, the British title, the European title twice but it's really only in my last fight against Sturm in Germany that I proved to people once and for all that I'm one of the best middleweights in the world.
What’s been the most memorable fight of your career to date?
There have been a few: winning the Irish title back in Dublin in 2005, knocking out Wayne Elcock, a local rival from Birmingham in 2009 and then winning the European title with a first round knockout over Amin Asikainen in 2009. Strangely enough even though I got robbed against Sturm that fight was memorable as well because despite the judges’ decision it has led to this opportunity with Sergio Martinez.
How are you feeling about the fight?
The best word to sum it up would be “excited”, really. An Irish guy fighting one of the best fighters in the world for the world title on St. Patrick's Day in Madison Square Garden – how could I not be excited about that?
What would you like to say to your Irish fans?
Thanks for all the huge support to date. I really appreciate it. There are so many people spending their hard earned money to cross the Atlantic to support me. I even have Irish friends living in Australia who are coming over for the fight. Of course I've had huge support from the Irish community in New York, too, and people have made me feel so welcome.
Where and how can people purchase tickets?
The only problem at this point is that I believe the fight is almost sold out but people can check with Ticketmaster.com and the MSG box office to try and get hold of the last few remaining tickets. If people can't be there then the fight is live on HBO and on Sky Sports back home. I'm sure the atmosphere in the pubs around New York showing the fight will be great as well.