Tokyo Olympian Emmet Brennan plans to follow in the footsteps of John Duddy

Tokyo Olympian Emmet Brennan has a message for Eddie Hearn and Matchroom. He spoke to John Dennen

TOKYO Olympian Emmet Brennan has a plan. The Irishman will relocate to New York City and he plans to follow in the footsteps of John Duddy. In fact Brennan will link up with Duddy for a stint of training to see if they gel as fighter and coach.

“There’s a huge Irish population in New York and that’s a market I want to tap into,” Brennan said. “We haven’t really had an Irish boxer that has actually lived and been in the community of New York since probably John Duddy.

“We’re talking 14, 15 years since that has been done and from what I gather they’re screaming out for someone to be living there and constantly in the community. I’m the best man to do it.”

He’s excited about potentially taking his lead from Duddy. “It’s a great, great story. He was a middleweight, I’ll be going at super-middleweight. We’ve very, very similar boxing styles, as in we’re exciting, we come to fight. We’ll have fans on their edge of their seats,” Emmet continued. It’s professional boxing. No one wants to look at someone jab, hold and move. They want to see blood and guts, they want to see people going for it. They want to see people clashing in the middle and that’s exactly what I bring.”

“John Duddy was a come forward fighter. For my liking he lacked a little defence, which I have a little bit extra. He might say I’m not as good as him going forward,” he added. “It just makes so much sense.”

Brennan is an exciting fighter with an all action professional style. He demonstrated that in the exciting three-round wars he came through in the Olympic qualification event last year.

“I caught Covid in January [2021], that was a disaster. I was lucky because the qualifiers got put back till June. But I tried to come back too quick and I got a shoulder injury, then an elbow injury,” he recalled. “I only actually got five rounds of sparring before the Olympic qualifier.

“Even to get to the Olympics, being in that shape was a remarkable achievement.”

He had backed himself to turn his Olympic dream into a reality, taking out a loan so he didn’t have to work around his training. “I quit the job and I took a loan out of Credit Union. I went training full time. People say it was a risk,” he said. “It was an educated risk. Money is something that you can always get back but memories and these times, once they’re gone they’re gone. It’s something that I hope the next generation of fighters in Ireland don’t have to do.”

At the qualifier he won two boots before losing in the quarter-final. But he’d got far enough to go into a box-off for a place at the Tokyo Games. It was him or Sweden’s Liridon Nuha. “He wasn’t a boxer, he was a wrestler,” Emmet said. “He hit me after the bell, he hit me when the ref said break, he hit me with four head butts, he was really, really in close.”

“In the last round, I held a little bit and the ref took a point off me and I knew in my head this lad is going to come and he’s going to make mistakes and instead of meeting him head on, I took a step back and I countered him three or four times and that’s probably what got me over the line,” Brennan continued. “I used to be a counter-puncher but for the last 10 years I’ve been going forward and I’ve been an exciting fighter. In the time that I needed it the most, the last minute of the most important fight of your life, I went back to who I was in the first 10 years of my career and I just picked him off. It was like it was meant to be the way that happened. Waiting for that result was probably the longest minute of my life.”

His Olympics was not how he wanted it to be. “I got over the line there [at the qualifier] And then we had a week off, it was very close to the Olympics and then in the first spar back, I got injured again. I’d done one round and then the next time I was in the boxing ring was the fight in Tokyo. I was up against it,” Brennan said. “I got the world number two and the Asian champion [Dilshodbek Ruzmetov].”

“I had a really, really good gameplan,” he reflected, but couldn’t execute it. “It wasn’t even a split second, I was about a second and a half late every single time. I didn’t have the timing and I didn’t have the condition to do it.”

He has fully recuperated, recovered his injuries and is ready to turn professional. He has appealed to Eddie Hearn and Matchroom to make his debut on the Katie Taylor vs Amanda Serrano bill at Madison Square Garden on April.

He’s even recruited the actor Barry Keoghan, one of the stars of Eternals in the Marvel film franchise, to walk him to the ring. “Barry lives about three minutes from me,” Brennan said. “He’s over a million followers online between Instagram and Twitter, he’s going to walk me out to the ring if I can get on it.

“I’ll be getting the Irish in and the party started. I’m bringing something different to the table.”

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