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‘Fighting man’ Sullivan riding the wave in the paid ranks

Dee Sullivan enjoyed a winning start to life as a professional against Pawel Strykowski at the Ulster Hall in May Dee Sullivan enjoyed a winning start to life as a professional against Pawel Strykowski at the Ulster Hall in May
By David Mohan

IT may just be his second professional contest on Saturday, but Turf Lodge cruiserweight Dee Sullivan believes he is already settling into life in the paid ranks.

The 26 year-old ‘Vanilla Gorilla’ made his debut at the Ulster Hall back in May on a card topped by former world champion Ryan Burnett when he out-pointed Pawel Strykowski and this Saturday, he faces Poland’s Mateusz Kubiszyn (2-1) in another four-round bout.

The early stages as a professional are all about learning the ropes and adjusting to the slower pace, but Sullivan feels that he has the style to adapt quickly and he is looking forward to showcasing his talents at the Falls Park on Saturday.

“This is all a learning curve,” he said.

“Going into my debut was like going to my first novice fight. I had been to the Commonwealth Games, been an Ulster Elite champion twice and an Irish champion but it was still like my first fight.

“We kinda winged it a bit, but JP (Delaney, coach) was saying after that you couldn’t tell I was a 1-0 pro because I had all the tricks like using the head, rolling and slipping. That’s why I think it was the right decision to turn over as a pro because I’m definitely suited to it. I can pick my punches and take my time – stuff I naturally do.

“There is a bit of skill there, but overall I’m a fighting man and I will do whatever I need to do to get the job done.”

Sullivan boxed at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia under head coach, John Conlan and now it is Conlan’s son, Jamie, who is helping the popular cruiserweight make his way without the vest.

He paid tribute to the MTK Professional Development Coordinator for giving him the opportunity to box on Saturday’s card and also his overall work in the role.

“When I was announced for the Burnett card, things were a bit rushed and I actually had a dislocated finger on my left hand, but I wasn’t going to say no to it – it was too big a stage,” he explained.

“Jamie then announced me for Féile and that was amazing. He properly looks after the fighters and that is unreal.

“He knows how fighters can be treated, so it’s amazing he’s coordinating it all and that’s what you need – someone who’s experienced the highs and lows of it all because they will always look after the boxers.”

Should Sullivan keep winning and developing, then he ought to continue getting opportunities.

Life as a pro has been good so far and like all in West Belfast, whether fighter or fan, he is hopeful Saturday is not a one-off and he is confident the talent exists in Belfast to make these huge events an annual occurrence.

“I’m not earning the money now that has me driving about in a Rolls Royce, but just getting some money for my work is a great feeling,” he added.

“There are so many good amateurs who I couldn’t lace their boots, but there is just this added thing that comes with being a professional.

“We have some of the best boxers in the world – amateur and pro – so people need to start recognising that.

“Michael (Conlan) has his fights in America on St Patrick’s Day – wouldn’t it be great if this (Féile) could be a yearly thing too? Next year he could be fighting for a world title, or you could even have someone like Sean McComb topping the bill next year.”

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