|Danny O’Connor of Framingham had his first bout in Massachusetts in three years at the House of Blues Thursday. (file/michael stravato/for the globe)|
Sweet sounds for O'Connor
Local boxer wins by TKO at the Blues
The headliner came through.
The House of Blues, on Lansdowne Street opposite Fenway Park, took on a Red Sox theme Thursday night, hosting its own Boston vs. New York competition, headlined by lefthander Danny O’Connor of Framingham. In its first venture into professional boxing, the House of Blues presented a six-bout card, alternating fights with music performed by traditional Irish band The Old Brigade, creating a charged atmosphere and festival vibe. Faces in the crowd included former boxing champion Micky Ward and Shawn Thornton of the Bruins.
O’Connor pounded Daniel Sostre of Highland, N.Y., stopping him after four rounds in a scheduled 10-round light welterweight bout for a TKO.
The Old Brigade often opens for the Dropkick Murphys, whose bass guitarist, Ken Casey has been an enthusiastic supporter of O’Connor. By the time the O’Connor bout started, at 11 p.m., there was a full house of 2,500. Proceeds benefited the Claddagh Fund, the community-based charity of the Dropkick Murphys.
O’Connor, 27, had his first fight in his home state in three years. O’Connor’s amateur career (95-8) included a national championship and a Golden Glove title in 2008. He was an alternate for the 2008 US Olympic team.
O’Connor’s trainer, Ronnie Shields of Houston, believes his fighter can become a world title-holder, sparked by the enthusiasm of the Clan O’Connor cheering section.
The Dropkick Murphys took the stage for a few songs just before O’Connor took the ring, and four bagpipes and a drummer preceded him onto the stage. Rene Rancourt sang the national anthem, and they were off and running.
At least O’Connor (16-1) was. He spent much of the first round battering Sostre’s midsection and then his head while Sostre (11-5-1), a native of Puerto Rico, tried to cover up or move away.
It was more of the same in the second round, with O’Connor repeatedly backing up Sostre against the ropes and whaling away.
In the fourth, O’Connor turned up the heat, connecting first with a left to Sostre’s head, then a right to his midsection, driving him backward.
It was all Sostre could take; he did not come out for the fifth round and O’Connor got his victory. Sostre was forced to retire with an injured right hand.
The man Casey proclaimed “the next great generation of Massachusetts fighters’’ had proven himself before an overjoyed home crowd.
“I just wanted to perform at top level and impress all the fans that came out to support me,’’ said a very pumped-up O’Connor after climbing up on the ropes and raising his arms to salute the crowd. “Tonight, I think I did.
“This is something you dream about as a kid in Boston sports. I got to perform something I’m passionate about in front of all these friends and family.’’
As O’Connor had Sostre pinned against the ropes while he hammered his body, the crowd began to yell, “Finish him off Danny!’’
O’Connor knew that wouldn’t work.
“The hardest thing is to tune the crowd out,’’ O’Connor said. “Even though you don’t want to you have to because . . . Coach Ronnie in the corner, I want to be able to listen everything that he says to me and do everything he says.’’
O’Connor said he felt great after the fight and after signing autographs and taking pictures for a half-hour. He didn’t want to leave the ring. “I wish they would have let me stay out there all day, because if it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be here.’’
Things are moving fast for O’Connor. A man approached him wearing a “Danny O Boxing’’ hat, the first time the boxer had seen one. “Can I have that?’’ he said, marveling at the attention he has drawn.
“I would have liked to have a real solid knockout, but to make someone quit, it’s just as good,’’ O’Connor said.
In the penultimate bout, unbeaten super featherweight Ryan Kielczewski (12-0, 2 KOs) of Boston defeated former IBF featherweight champ Eric Aiken (24-8, 14 KOs) by unanimous decision.