Ahead of this weekend's Bellator card in Belfast, Northern Ireland, FO caught up with the latest young irish sensation, unbeaten James Gallagher, ahead of his featherweight scrap with Israeli Kirill Medvedovsky.
Q. How do you see this fight with Medvedovsky playing out?
A. I am going to go in there straight away. I am going to make a beeline straight for him. I will cut him off and when he tries to escape he will soon realize there is no escape. It will be the beginning of the end as soon as he realizes that.
Q. You almost blew the roof off last time out in Dublin, and this fight is just 100 miles from your home. What's the atmosphere going to be like in Belfast?
A. Itâ€™s going to be amazing. The one in Dublin was the best moment of my life. But I really hope this one tops it. I feel like it will. I take great pride and honor in walking out and doing everyone proud. I want to prove everyone right who believes in me. They think I am going to be a world champion and one of the greatest ever. I like to prove them right. I donâ€™t go out to prove people wrong. I go out to show the people that support me that they are right. It feels great. Itâ€™s a great honor.
Q. Now you've had some time to reflect, what are your biggest takeaways from that night in December?
A. I was not happy with my performance. The feeling I got afterward was something I never felt before. It was years in the making. When I was 15 years old I dropped everything I had and moved away from my family to Dublin to dedicate my whole life to this sport. I would spend the week in Dublin and take a bus back home for the weekend. I would be on that bus and think to myself one day I wouldn't have to be on the bus. I am going to have a nice car and a nice living. I took so much motivation from that. Itâ€™s a great feeling. When I was able to win that night and then to feel those people. It was the pinnacle of my career. It was a surreal moment.
Q. Once you experience a moment like that how hungry are you to experience something similar again?
A. Itâ€™s motivated me so much. It was a great moment but I am a long, long way away from where I want to be. I am not stopping until I get there. I will keep my head down and keep focused. No one is getting in my way.
Q. You're only 20 yet you're handling full grown men, and have been since you were 13 according to some sources. What was that like, being a boy beating up men?
A. It was great. Now that Iâ€™m getting older I am in my early 20s fighting guys in their late 20s. Thatâ€™s not as much fun as being 13 whipping someone who is 10 years older than me. It felt better. Itâ€™s still good whipping people at this age. People will say I am only 5-0, but I have been in the game a long time and I have a lot of experience in the game. People donâ€™t realize that.Â
Q. How much fun is it to be apart of Bellator right now, amidst all this growth?
A. Itâ€™s great. They treat me brilliantly. I have a good relationship with Scott (Coker) and everyone at Bellator. I am happy to be here. More importantly, we understand each other. Thatâ€™s what is most important. They're giving me the platform to fight on and pay me good money. They're paying more money than I've ever earned in my life and more than most people have ever earned in their lives. I take great pride in that. Itâ€™s good to be fighting here.
Q. How's your relationship with coach John Kavanagh changed over the years?
A. He took me in when I was 15 years old and let me live with him. He brought me to where I am today. He's the reason why I am here. I feel privileged to walk into the gym every day and have a look around and see all the coaches and the teammates I have. I take a lot of pride and honor to be a part of the team. I wouldnâ€™t be speaking to you right now if it wasnâ€™t for them.Â
Q. As far as visualizing your future, five years, 10 years down the road, what are your goals?
A. I want a few world titles. I want to be known as the greatest ever. I want loads of money. Thatâ€™s all I want. Is that too much to ask for?Â