Breaking your leg might be a strange way to start your boxing career but for unbeaten welterweight Steve O’Meara it was just the ‘break’ he was looking for. At 17, the West Drayton native was earning rave reviews for his displays on the football field with semi pro outfit Uxbridge until a broken leg sent his sporting career in an entirely different direction.
“When I broke my leg I was looking for something I could do to keep my fitness levels up while my leg was still healing," said O'Meara. "I started doing a bit of boxing training and before I knew it I’d been bitten by the boxing bug.”
With a successful amateur career up and running, O’Meara decided to hang up the boots for good and concentrate on his boxing. “I still mess around every now and then with my mates but I don’t play at a serious level anymore because it’s too risky," he said.
“I can’t afford to pick up any injuries on the pitch because it could set your career back and I’m focused completely on my boxing these days. My mates say I have gone greedy and don’t pass the ball anymore so maybe I’m better off being in an individual sport now anyway!”
Since turning pro last April, O’Meara has certainly had things all his own way, racking up five straight wins with his last two outings featuring on ITV 4.
“It’s great to get TV exposure because it really lifts your profile,” said O’Meara. “When I fought J.J. Bird I went on straight after Junior Witter and it was shown live, so that was a huge buzz. It was funny because if Junior’s fight had gone the distance, I would have had to wait until after the main event that night to get on. I asked Junior to go out and finish his guy off early so that I could get on straight after him and he did, so I owe him one now!
“I sold 300 tickets for that fight so it was a great feeling to come out in front of all those people and hear them chanting my name.”
O’Meara’s next outing will come on the undercard of Jon Thaxton’s first defence of his European Lightweight title in Norwich on February 28, and he says he wants to take his winning record to double figures by the end of 2009.
“I’m happy to go with the flow for the time being and I don’t worry too much about who I’m fighting," said O'Meara. "I feel I’m improving all the time and I try and spar with anyone and everyone, short, tall, boxer, fighter, southpaw or orthodox because I don’t have as much amateur experience as a lot of the other pros starting out.
“By the end of the year, I’d like to think I’ll be 10 and 0 and ready to challenge for my first title. This next fight in Norwich will be my first six rounder and I’m looking forward to it because although I’m not a one punch knockout artist I feel I’m the type of guy who can grind people down so when I start doing the longer distances I think you’ll see me starting to wear guys down with pressure.”
Featuring on the exciting undercard: Danny McIntosh vs. Matthew Barney for the English Light Heavyweight title, subject to Board approval. Also appearing are new heavyweight sensation Tyson Fury, Matthew Thirlwall, Lee Purdy, Earl Ling and making his pro debut, ABA Senior Featherweight Champion 2008, Bradley Evans of Royston.
Tickets for Steve O’Meara’s fight on the undercard of Jon Thaxton’s first European title defence at the Norfolk Showground, Norwich on February 28 are available from the Ticketline box office on 0871 424 4444 or via www.ticketline.co.uk.