‘‘They will know I’m coming when I’m taking down the big fish.’’ Unbeaten super-featherweight Jono ‘King Kong’ Carroll oozes the same type of confidence he always has.
It is no secret that Irish boxing fans have a soft spot for a warrior; a man who travels all corners of the globe to fight and gives absolutely everything in every performance. The likes of Steve Collins, Jack Dempsey and more recently, Carl Frampton have been adored as role models for young Irish fighters coming up through the ranks over the years.
The mould is set and Dublin’s Jono Carroll has made all the right noises in and out of the ring so far, as he looks to win over fans at home and abroad.
In an exclusive interview with FightTalk.net, the IBF European super-featherweight Champion, talks openly on life before boxing, his partnership with MTK and what lies ahead.
The 25-year-old turned heads winning Prizefighter as a relative unknown however rose to prominence back in June, winning a blockbuster encounter against fellow unbeaten rival John Quigley at The Waterfront in Belfast; a fight which has been earmarked as a potential UK fight of the year candidate.
The Belfast bout which ran high with emotion and tension in the build-up, culminated with ‘King Kong’ flooring his opponent twice on his way to a split decision victory.
‘‘I love a good fight. Last one was a belter. That’s what the sport is all about. I love a nice scrap, and boxing is all about them quality fights.’’
Capturing the European title is the latest success in a career which has already produced some defining and memorable moments for the tricky southpaw.
Beginning his professional career in Australia, Carroll captured the imagination in only his third fight, winning the acclaimed ‘Irish Fight of The Year’ in a memorable encounter with Declan Geraghty in his homecoming bout. The 25-year-old continued to impress by clinching a 2014 victory in the ‘three fights in a night’, Prizefighter format.
Picking up the sport later than most, Carroll reminisced on how his path lead to a career in boxing.
‘‘I got into a fight in school with a traveller and he boxed me around. So, my Da brought me to the gym and taught me how to box. Two weeks after I called a straightener, and we had a bare-knuckle fight and I won. From that day on I loved fighting. But only started boxing and competing when I was 15.’’
Ten years later, and now IBF European champion, the unbeaten Dubliner’s intentions are clear looking to the future, and in classic Irish fashion, was itching to get back into the ring.
‘‘I’m sparring 6 and 8 rounds easy so I would love a fight soon. I have a date there and it will be on BoxNation and I’m trying to get a quick one before it to keep me sharp.’’
‘‘[I want to] defend my title and grab a few more along the way. In two years, I want World titles but I still have a lot of growing and development to do. I’m always learning and improving so I’m in no rush just yet. One you make that big step up there is no steps back so I’m going to be ready when I do take it.’’
Currently out in Marbella with the MTK Global team, Carroll finds himself in good company, training with the likes of Thomas Stalker, Paddy Barnes and Jamie Conlan, as they themselves prepare for their own upcoming challenges.
‘‘When we are in camp it’s just a laugh. Everyone works hard but we can all have a laugh doing it. It just makes things so much easier. The runs are more like counselling sessions, we all just don’t shut up!’’
The MTK Gym has become a stronghold in recent years for the brightest stars coming through the ranks in the UK and Carroll had only good words to say about Matthew Macklin’s ever-growing business empire.
‘‘My team MTK are taking over in Europe already. And since joining them I can see why. We get the best treatment. Everything is run so professional and everyone has a job. Mine is fighting and training hard but best believe they are all working just as hard as me to get the right fights at the right time.’’
‘‘My trainer [Danny Vaughan] is very good at what he does. He trains us hard but he’s a friend also and he knows how to get the best out of us. All my team mates are spot on. They all work really hard and we are all at different levels but it’s good because we can see how the ones training for World titles are doing. It’s good for us to look at that and gives us that extra drive and determination!’’
The hard-working Irish 130lb warrior, can now turn his attention to the best of the British pool, with the likes of Stephen Smith, Zelfa Barrett and Martin Ward providing mouth-watering potential domestic match ups.
Looking onto the World scene, Carroll had some choice words for former IBF World Champion, Gervonta Davis, who came in 2lbs over the super-eatherweight limit. Davis chose not to re-weigh and instead forfeited his ttle on the scales.
“I was a bit shocked at him [Davis] missing the weight. It’s very unprofessional to not at least try and get the two pounds off. Go sit in a sauna if you have to.”
‘‘No way would I be giving up my belt that easy. But to be honest I wasn’t impressed with his fight then after either. He’s very open at times and leaves himself open for counters.’’
Never one to mince his words, ‘King Kong’ gave an honest and blunt analysis of the fighter who was due to provide chief support to Floyd Mayweather’s ‘Money Fight’ on Saturday 26th August.
‘‘But that last fight I think he let the whole night get to him. And who knows he might be believing all the lick arses and think he’s just better than everyone else! Look at Broner! And we all know what happened to him, he got too big for his boots.’’
With the intention to fight before the year is out, and training in full swing in Marbella, the future looks bright for Jono Carroll. Doubled with the heart and grit of a true Irish fighter and a fun personality to go alongside, it can only be a matter of time before we see ‘King Kong’ challenging in big fights on the World stage.
Written by Thomas Humber