The last time I spoke with Danny O’Connor, he was preparing to “bring it back to the city,” and fulfill a lifelong dream of being a headline boxer on Causeway Street. Since then, that dream became a reality when O’Connor defeated Derek Silveira on Jan. 26 at TD Garden, following in the footsteps of so many great boxers who made their names at a place in Boston called “Garden.”
Five months later, O’Connor is gearing up for his next fight Saturday at Foxwoods Resort Casino. Although O’Connor won’t be in Boston this time — and won’t even be in the state of Massachusetts — he’s still representing his city the best way he can.
For this match, O’Connor will take on Hector Munoz in a non-televised portion of an HBO triple-header card. However, he’ll still be sending love back to Boston, a city that’s still hurting, with a custom suit that pays tribute to the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings.
“For this one, I’m putting the Clan O’Connor gear aside and doing something for the city,” O’Connor, who used to stitch his own suits earlier in his career, told me earlier this week. “I sat down with Rival Boxing, who makes all my gear, and I hit it home about what I wanted to represent with this.”
The uniform includes a jacket, gloves, shoes and, of course, trunks. It features Boston Marathon colors, names of all the victims stitched into it and “Boston Strong” patches representing each of the five major sports teams in the Boston area (O’Connor shares a doctor with the New England Revolution).
“Thinking about that suit,” O’Connor said, “it reminds me … it gives me that extra kick to take my training up a level.”
Indeed, O’Connor’s experience in the wake of the bombings was just the same as the rest of ours. When the bombings first occurred, O’Connor felt the anxiety of wondering what family or friends might have been down at the finish line to cheer someone on. Likewise, when police chased the suspects through Cambridge and Watertown over the course of 24 hours, O’Connor was locked in to news reports and the police scanner.
“Being from Boston, I was directly affected by the bombings — the whole community was,” O’Connor said. “I was on [the Internet], sitting on my sofa hour hours following the whole thing on the police scanner. I know so many people who could have been down there, it could have been anyone. I was trying to remember who told me they were going down to the finish line.”
Many of those people will be in attendance when O’Connor takes on Munoz on Saturday night. Although Foxwoods is a fair drive from Boston, O’Connor organized a party bus to transport family, friends and fans from the city to the casino. It also helps that O’Connor is a regular on the casino floor and says he knows just about everyone at the establishment.
Unlike last time, when Shawn Thornton worked his corner, O’Connor isn’t sure if the Bruins star will be there. However, his manager and Dropkick Murphys frontman Ken Casey will be, as will boxing legend Mickey Ward.
Just one more way O’Connor is bringing Boston with him wherever he goes.
Photo via Wikimedia Commons/Danny O’Connor