by Orlagh Mullan

Sports Reporter

John Cooley has his eyes set on lucky number three this weekend, as he tries to keep hold of his 100% professional record.

It has been a stuttering start to this new stage of his career for the 30-year-old Derry native who has only fought twice since November 30, with fights on May 12 and June 10 both called off since his last victory.

Now living in Florida and training under the watchful eyes of Jim Conaghan, John Vinciguerra and Hall of Famer Jim McLoughlin, Cooley will face American Joseph Cole at the Sunny State’s A La Carte Pavillion tonight.

With five months having elapsed since he defeated Emilio Rivera by unanimous decision on St Patrick’s Day, the super bantamweight admitted he is just keen to get back in there after months of uncertainties over scheduled bouts.

“March was the last time I was fighting so it’s been a while. I was meant to be on the last show with Connor (Coyle) but three different opponents pulled out. I was flying back to Ireland for a wedding the week before and my coach Jim just said to me to go home and enjoy it, because you never know the next time you’ll get to go home, and at that stage there was no opponent set up,” he told the Derry News. “It was bittersweet because I was able to go home and have a drink and enjoy myself but I was ready to go for the fight, I had been doing six and eight rounds of sparring and I felt prepared but then it just didn’t happen for me. It’s the way it goes sometimes, but it’s made me even hungrier to get back in there.”

The result of those ghost fights has been a lot of time spent in the gym, and Cooley said he feels he is coming to his peak condition just at the right time.

“We just bought a house last week and we’re moving in there and looking after my wee man too, but I’ve been able to keep myself right mentally and focus on getting into great shape,” he explained. “I’ve been training hard, doing two sessions a day. I dropped the boy I was sparring there the other day hitting body shot after body shot, and he’s heavier than me as well. I’m happy with my weight and I feel comfortable now heading into Saturday.”

While, like Cooley, Cole has fought twice as a professional, the 27-year-old has won neither, but the Derry man is not taking anything for granted.

“The two boys that beat him were both 2-0 as well so I’m in the same boat. He was knocked out in one and then it was a points win in the other, but the fact is that you just never know what happened – the two fights could have been close, you can’t tell,” insisted the super bantamweight. “The way I always look at opponents is, regardless of their record, they have two hands and a brain. I just worry about my own game. I know if I’m right mentally and I box the same way that I train then I’m a match for anyone.”

With news that GoldenBoy promotions will be streaming all the fights on both RingTV and FiteTV, Cooley agreed that while there was an opportunity there to impress watching eyes, he was just focused on getting the job done and letting that do the talking.

“It’s a stage to make a name for yourself, without a doubt,” the 30-year-old said. “The entire bill will be streamed so there’s plenty of eyes that are going to be on what’s happening – not just the people who are inside the venue. There’s always promoters there having a look at things and seeking out new talent so of course you want to go out there and put on a good show, but that isn’t the primary focus. You have to look at yourself first and foremost, and on taking the opponent down by whatever means necessary.”

With Cooley yet to fight on Irish soil as a professional, the former Ulster Juvenile and Youth champion admitted he would love to be involved in a home bout if his team can get the scheduling right.

“A home fight is definitely on the cards, it always is. It’s just about getting the right fight. I work for the school board here so it isn’t easy for me to get time off and that’s what you need when you’re talking about a home fight,” he explained. “You need at least a week and a half taking in the travelling and acclimatising yourself with jetlag and that, so it’s a difficult thing to work out. It’s always something that’s on my radar and hopefully we can make it happen sooner rather than later.”

John would like to thank his coaches Jim McLoughlin, John Vinciguerra and Jim Conaghan, as well as his sponsors Rogue Republik, Gypsy Soul Coffee, Bodyworks and Spinnergy.

If you have a story or want to send a photo or video to us please contact the Derry Now editorial team on 028 7129 6600 for Derry City stories Or 028 7774 3970 for County Derry stories. Or you can email [email protected] at any time.