Danny Connor will put friendship aside for title defence against Tony Owen
12:00am Friday 20th September 2013 in Sport
Carshalton's southern area light welterweight champion Danny 'Cassius' Connor vows to put his friendship with challenger Tony Owen, also from Carshalton, to one side when they meet in the ring next month.
The Surrey pair will be battling it out for the belt as well as bragging rights on Matchroom Eddie Hearn's Carpe Diem show at the O2 Arena in Greenwich, on October 5.
Going into the fight, champion Connor is focused on business and promises to defend his title successfully against his pal.
“I’m on the rise and he isn’t. He wanted the fight, so may the best man win. I will,” said Connor.
The 27-year-old Connor (10-6-1) and 26-year-old Owen (14-2-0) first trained together at Rosehill ABC in Sutton, more than 10 years ago.
Connor said: “We lived in the same area and Tony and his brother Lee were well-known for being world champion kick boxers, and that Tony had won the novices at Roundshaw ABC.
"They then came and started training and fighting out of Rosehill ABC and that’s where we met properly at the age of 17.
“We have since been on holiday together, had countless nights out and good times, as well as sharing bad times when our friend Lewis Pinto passed away.”
Owen’s best friend Lewis Pinto tragically took his own live in June 2012 after battling depression for many years.
Pinto had just entered the professional ranks at the age of 24, impressing on his debut against Danny Donchev at The Coronet, Elephant & Castle by dropping his opponent twice with powerful body shots.
Connor went on to say, “Tony would ring me any time he needed advice on an opponent or help with his career.
"I tried my hardest for three days solid to get him in Prizefighter by tweeting Eddie Hearn and Matchroom relentlessly.”
Gone but not forgotten: Connor and Owen helped each other get over the death of good friend Lewis Pinto, left
A true Cinderella man, Connor has been on a fantastic journey over the past two years, losing just once in eight contests when he reached the final of the light welterweight Prizefighter tournament in July this year.
It took six professional fights for Connor to earn his first victory when he turned pro in 2010 but since then he has claimed the vacant British masters welterweight title by defeating Tyler Goodjohn, and the southern area light welterweight title by beating an in-form, confident Chris Evangelou twice.
Connor recently took part in the popular Prizefighter tournament, live on Sky Sports at the famous York Hall in London, reaching the final by beating hot prospects Charlie Rice in the quarter finals and Ryan Taylor in the semis on unanimous points decisions.
Connor was defeated in the final by unbeaten prospect Chris Jenkins who handed Tony Owen an early exit after the first stage of the tournament.
Challenger and buddy: Tony Owen, left, is about to step into the ring to face his long-standing friend, Danny Connor
Challenger Owen's only losses from 14 professional fights have come in the form of respectable opponents in British title challenger Ben Murphy and Prizefighter champion Jenkins.
After the first dozen fights against mostly journeymen with the exception of Darryl Still, Owen has recently stepped up in the calibre of opponents by first defeating Asan Yuseinov in a hard fought contest last year, and then Aleksander Vakhtangashvili with a stunning fifth round stoppage from a devastating left hook to the body.
It makes for an excellent match up between the friends turned foes in a fight that many fans will want to see, with the history of the friendship and the recent bitterness and emotions edging through the cracks, giving it that added grit and excitement.
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