Promising prospect Danny O’Connor recently spent 10 days working out at the famed Athletes’ Performance Institute in Tempe, Arizona.
Athletes’ Performance, where Boston Red Sox stars Dustin Pedroia and Jacoby Ellsbury trained during the off-season, is home base for numerous athletes in several sports.
O’Connor arrived there right after a slew of college football players, including potential top pick Matthew Stafford, the U. of Georgia quarterback, preparing for the NFL combine had departed, which afforded Danny extra time and special attention.
“One of my best friends went to school for sports medicine and he has a good job there with Athletes’ Performance,” Danny said. “He talked to the people who run the facility and I did 10 days of legitimate training there. I was very impressed. I got educated about my body, nutrition, recovery work, and not getting injured. I
"It was like going to school to learn how to be an athlete. It was way better than going to the gym and punching the heavy bag. I had a little time off after my last fight. I could have taken a vacation, or taken a vacation in Arizona and training at Athletes’ Performance. I learned a lot of new stuff. I was like a sponge; taking in as much knowledge as possible to make me a better athlete.”
2004 U.S. Olympic Team alternate O’Connor, 5-0 (2), is coming off his first-round TKO of Charles Wade before 300 of his passionate fans three weeks ago in Boston.
“The place was jam-packed,” Danny noted. “They kept me until the last fight. I didn’t watch any of the other fights so I could concentrate on mine, but when I went out there everybody – family, friends and fans – were standing and it was so loud. I was really taken back to think they were all there to see me. It was a good feeling.”
The 23-year-old O’Connor, who defeated 2008 Olympic Gold medalist Felix Diaz, of the Dominican Republic, last May in a USA-Dominican Republic dual meet, is gradually dropping down from light welterweight to lightweight His connections at Athletes’ Performance set him up with a strength and conditioning coach, Eric Cressey, in Hudson, MA.
“Eric is a well known strength coach who worked a lot with former Red Sox star Curt Schilling,” O’Connor added. “He has me doing a lot of ply-metrics, similar to workouts we did with the Olympic Team – interval and explosive training. I feel good about my fights.
"I’m getting stronger and better each fight. I’m not the type to ever get out of shape, but I’m on a mission to be world champion and everyday, I wake up thinking of what I can do to make that happen. Mornings, I work with Eric, and nights I’m at the gym in Providence training with my coach, David Keefe.
“I’m coming down in weight, little by little, to 135. The morning of my last fight I weighed 137+ but when I learned my opponent wasn’t coming in close to 140, I ate more and weighed in at 141. With proper nutrition, I want to be a strong 135, not weak making it. I’m on a great diet plan and when I’m comfortable at 135, I’m going to be a monster.”
Danny’s head trainer and co-manager, David Keefe, believes the move to make his prize pupil a lightweight is a major step in the right direction. “Our goal is to drop weight gradually until he hits 135 in about six months,” Keefe explained. “
Eventually, Danny will be the champion of the world in the division that suits him best - lightweight. He’s going to be a big lightweight. I’ve always told Danny that he had the weight to lose. Hooking-up with Eric Cressey will help him drop weight and make him stronger at the same time, something Rob Valle, O’Connor’s other co-manager, and I are excited about.”
O’Connor, promoted by Seminole Warriors Boxing, is scheduled to fight an opponent to be determined April 25 on Showtime’s Carl Froch-Jermain Taylor card at MGM Grand Foxwoods. “That’s another big card where I can showcase my talents to a lot of different people,” Danny concluded. “It’s a great fight card and Foxwoods is close to home, so I know a lot of my fans will be there.”