Coach Cope confident Greg O'Neil will overcome favourite Harry Matthews in York clash

Greg O'Neil is heading back into action just days after a knock-out return to the ring '“ and there is a belt up for grabs.

Saturday, 11th March 2017, 8:44 am
Updated Friday, 24th March 2017, 9:50 am
Greg ONeill with coaches Peter Cope, left, and Alan Temple.

Hartlepool and Horden’s big-hitting super-middleweight is to face Harry Matthews in York next Saturday.

The pair will be fighting for the British Promoters Association Classic Challenge Belt over eight rounds at the Energise Sports Centre.

O’Neil, part of the Gus Robinson Developments team, will be in the away corner and the outsider against the highly-experienced ‘Pocklington Rocket’, who will be taking part in his 39th contest.

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But ‘The Real Deal’ goes into the confrontation with confidence sky-high following a first-round demolition of Zygimantas Butkevicius at Houghton last weekend.

O’Neil pounded the head of the Lithuanian who was in trouble on the ropes when referee Steve Hawkins called a halt at the two minute, 33 second mark of the opener.

Gus Robinson Developments head coach Peter Cope admits Matthews will start as favourite but fancies his man to overturn the odds.

“Matthews has had a lot of fights and is durable,” he said.

“He’s fought for the English title before, he’s got a lot of rounds under his belt and we’re going into his backyard.

“But Greg can hit and when you have punching power you have a chance.

“This is a great opportunity and I do have a strong fancy for him.”

His lightning-quick win at the Rainton Meadows Arena was his first fight since going the distance with London 2012 star Anthony Ogogo in March 2014.

The 24-year-old former Horden Sportsman ABC star has had some bad luck along the way, including the last-minute cancellation of a crack at the Northern Area super-middleweight title against Andrew Buchanan.

But O’Neil has had a sustained period in the West View Road camp and was powerfully out of the blocks last Saturday, showing no signs of any ring-rust.

“Greg looks fantastic in the gym,” added Cope. “It just shows what a difference a fight and a KO win makes.”

It was the fourth win of a six-fight career and, for all the dynamite he possesses inside his fists, the first KO on his record.

Matthews, on the other hand, has won 14 and drawn two of his 38 appearances, but a measure of his quality is that he’s only ever been stopped once.

“Greg is exciting,” said Cope. “It’s the perfect way to encapsulate him.

“It’s a challenge for him but one we’re all looking forward to.”