There is a scene in the soon-to-be released documentary on Spike O'Sullivan, The Prizefighter, which includes the devastating first-round knock-out from the Cork native's world title eliminator with David Lemieux.
The charismatic Rebel fighter’s dreams are shattered by that shot-from-nowhere, as O’Sullivan suffered the first knock-down of a 31-fight career in the paid ranks.
Renowned film-maker Terry McMahon’s mesmerising sequence following the fighter hitting the canvas offers an almost dreamlike delving into the mind of the prone fighter as his life’s work and future plans are completely knocked out of kilter.
The accompanying audio is distorted to a tremendous effect, akin to how O’Sullivan must have felt inside his head throughout the seconds, minutes, hours and possibly days following such a ferocious punch from a renowned knock-out artist.
Losing this high-profile fight under the bright lights of Las Vegas, may have appeared the right time for the Corkonian to call time on a highly entertaining career both inside and out of the ring, already the wrong side of 30.
But not for this Paschal Collins-trained new breed of Celtic warrior.
Trainer and fighter took the defeat very firmly on the chin and began to plot another course to world title glory.
The documentary ends with O’Sullivan making a comeback at light-middleweight, and now, most timely, in sync with the imminent television airing, Spike is back in the spotlight, and probably just one win away from that coveted world title opportunity.
Remarkably, O’Sullivan goes to war in Texas on 11 January against an unbeaten world champion, however, Jaime Munguia’s WBO super welterweight - or light middleweight – title is not up for grabs as the young Mexican has bade farewell to the division to step up to the marquee middleweight mark.
The clash with O’Sullivan is perhaps a rite of passage for the perceived future star of Golden Boy boxing and successor to compatriot Canelo’s crown.
And following O’Sullivan’s high-profile loss to Lemieux, Munguia will be expected to take care of business in front of a passionate 'home' crowd in San Antonio, just a couple of hundred kilometres from the Mexican border.
Showman O’Sullivan showed up for the promotional shoot suitably attired in cowboy costume, and will be happy to play the pantomime villain in this encounter.
But this really is an opportunity for O’Sullivan to make his mark Stateside, as he will take huge heart from some of Munguia’s performances this year combined with the move up in weight for the 23-year-old.
O’Sullivan will surely be the stronger of the two and will hit harder as the Mexican has a habit of throwing a lot of shots off balance with a non-existant defence at times, and while his work rate will trouble O’Sullivan, if he leaves the door open, he may just get a rude awakening in the heavier division.
Jan 11 🏟 @jaimemunguia15 makes his middleweight debut against @garyspikeosullivan in San Antonio! #MunguiaOsullivan on @dazn_usa pic.twitter.com/ulhBkoNqTF— Golden Boy (@GoldenBoyBoxing) November 28, 2019
Whatever happens in the always entertaining career of O’Sullivan, Irish fighters are guaranteed world title bouts in 2020, and first up is stylish Dublin middleweight Luke Keeler who has earned his shot at glory when he takes on Demetrius Andrade in January.
Keeler will go after the WBO middleweight title in Miami on 30 January as he looks to emulate former champion Andy Lee who secured that same belt back in 2014.
The Pete Taylor-trained fighter has improved significantly over the past few years having overcome career-stalling injuries, and secured the fight on the back of easily accounting for European champion Conrad Cummings twice over the past two years, as well as beating Luis Arias in Belfast during the summer.
Lee beat the then unbeaten Matvey Korobov to secure the vacant WBO belt, but Keeler’s task is arguably a lot more arduous as he goes toe-to-toe with an unbeaten, two-weight world champion who has chalked up 28 straight victories in an unblemished professional career, while defending his title twice in 2019.
Andrade has spent the last few months calling out the big guns in the division, Canelo Alvarez, Genady Golovkin and Billy Joe Saunders, and will no doubt, be looking beyond Keeler when they touch gloves at the Island Gardens venue.
But Keeler will take heart from the fact that Andrade failed to stop Maciej Sulecki in June, despite securing a comfortable unanimous decision, as the Dubliner’s powerful, yet elusive style may prove a match against the American who may still be in the smaller category of middleweights, having fought at super-welterweight up until 2018.
Carl Frampton showed that he still has the desire to, once again, become world title with his facile victory over Tyler McCreary at the end of 2019.
It was the first calendar year in six that Frampton had not boxed a world title bout, having lost out on the IBF title to the deserving Josh Warrington at the end of 2018.
But 2020 looks set to deliver another title encounter for The Jackal who is happy to push up to super-featherweight for a shot at glory and become a three-weight champion.
Reigning WBO champion Jamel Herring is a likely opponent for the Belfast hero early next summer and should that happen back in Belfast, a full-house at Windsor Park should surely complement the historic occasion.
James Tennyson enjoyed a fine bounce-back year in 2019 as the hard-hitting Lisburn lad enjoyed four knock-out victories following his world title defeat to Tevin Farmer back in October 2018.
Tennyson has moved up from super-featherweight and has admitted that he feels more comfortable and stronger at lightweight.
Impressing in Liverpool at the tail end of 2019 with a stoppage over Craig Evans, Tennyson will probably fight for the British title early in 2020, and following that, as part of the Eddie Hearn team, a world title eliminator would be the natural next step should he maintain his winning momentum.
Speaking of Matchroom promoter Hearn, Katie Taylor will no doubt remain very active throughout the New Year and will continue her quest to dominate women’s boxing on the world stage.
For such a busy boxer, Taylor had a relatively quiet 2019 with only two fights, however, that all-out war with Delfine Persoon last June will remain long in the memory as she unified the lightweight division.
Taylor stepped out of her comfort zone, to add another belt by moving up to super-lightweight in order to relieve Christina Linardatou of her WBO strap.
Persoon will surely be knocking on the door for a re-match in 2020 having won over the hearts of many watching last year, if not the judges, while encounters against the much-hyped Amanda Serrano as well as undisputed welterweight champion Cecilia Braekhus are set to arrive sooner rather than later.
Dennis Hogan may not have had a winning year throughout 2019, however, it will go down as quite a memorable one for the Australia-based Kildare native, who fought two world title bouts in April and December.
Hogan was denied world success against Mexican WBO super-welterweight champion Jaime Munguia in Monterrey in a bout that showed the Kilcullen man’s star quality, however, he was to be undone by some judging that proved more than sympathetic to the hometown fighter.
The Irish man would at least get a chance to enjoy a big payday against world champion Jermall Charlo in Brooklyn last month as Hogan stepped up in weight to take on one of the kingpins of the division.
Charlo proved too strong for Hogan in that particular clash, however, a return to light-middleweight in the New Year should see another world title encounter present itself for the 34-year-old.
Another Irish fighter who fought for world honours in 2019 was Sydney-based Portlaoise fighter TJ Doheny who defended his IBF World Super Bantamwight title in New York last January and then put it all on the line three months later to attempt to unify the division against the highly rated Daniel Roman.
In what turned out to be a hugely entertaining encounter, Doheny appeared to have the WBA champion in all sorts of trouble midway through the contest but was ultimately edged out on a majority decision defeat as one of the judges scored the contest a draw.
Doheny put his first professional defeat in 23 attempts firmly behind him in October and will surely contend for world honours in 2020 with a rematch with Roman an enticing possibility.
Doheny would also have several options at featherweight should he decide to move up a division.
The next level of fighters pushing towards world honours would certainly include Olympic medallists Michael Conlan and John Joe Nevin, as well as former world amateur silver medallist Jason Quigley.
All going to plan, this trio should certainly be eyeing world bouts by the end of the year with Conlan having recently notched up his 13th straight win in the professional ranks with a victory over Rio rival Vladimir Nikitin.
Conlan is fighting under the tutelage of Adam Booth, who has helped several boxers reach the holy grail, including Andy Lee and Ryan Burnett, and believes that the Belfast native will compete for world belts but is not yet the finished article.
Jason Quigley suffered a set-back in 2019, losing for the first time in his 17-fight pro career after getting lured into a war with Tureano Johnson last July.
Another change of trainer resulted in Quigley parting ways with the renowned Ingel Gym to join forces with Andy Lee in his quest to secure a world strap.
First impressions have looked very promising for the Donegal native as he eased past Abraham Cordero in early December and a the year ahead should lead to at least an eliminator going into 2021.
London Games silver medallist Nevin has had a stop-start career since going pro back in 2014, however, the Mullingar shuffle was on display three times over the past nine months.
Nevin’s last outing was his first time to go ten rounds in the pro game as he passed his toughest test so far, defeating Freddy Fonseca at the iconic York Hall in London.
Jono Carroll is another Irish fighter who lost a world title decider in 2019 as he was also defeated by IBF world super-featherweight champion Tevin Farmer.
Carroll lost the fight in Philadelphia last March to the hometown hero and is now looking to get another shot at a belt in the New Year following a facile comeback fight against Eleazar Valenzuela in August.
First up for Carroll in the New Year should be former Carl Frampton foe Scott Quigg in a rescheduled encounter following the Bury native’s recovery from injury.
Beyond that, there is a true wealth of talent navigating their way through the choppy and dangerous waters of professional boxing.
The two Tyrones, McCullagh and McKenna are expected to make real inroads in 2020, while former amateur champ, Eric Donovan is looking to fast-track his way through the paid ranks in the featherweight division.
Super-lightweight McKenna has been knocking on the door for the past couple of years since his defeat to Jack Catterall in 2018 and is currently involved in the Golden Contract competition on Sky Sports, having defeated fellow Irish fighter Darragh Foley last June.
McCullagh, like McKenna, is also involved in the knock-out quest for a fight contract, while both fighters have moved south to train with Pete Taylor in Dublin.
Thirty-four-year-old Donovan was a late starter and is wasting no time, working with Beijing silver medallist Kenny Egan, and is scheduled to fight in Belfast at the start of February as he closes in on a European strap.
Tommy McCarthy, Steven Donnelly, Anthony Cacace and Victor Rabei, likewise, are all expected to step up towards the periphery of world level throughout the next 12 months, while LA-based brothers Aaron McKenna and Stevie McKenna, Belfast duo Sean McComb and Caoimhin Agyarko Hynes are also real prospects following on from their excellent amateur careers.
A fight to look out for early in the year sees Gary Cully take on Joe Fitzpatrick for the Irish lightweight title in Belfast on 1 February, while Andy Lee protégé Paddy Donovan from Limerick and Dubliner Pierce O’Leary are two real hot prospects taking their first steps in the professional game.