By Chris Caldwell
HE’S shown before that he can overcome adversity and James Gallagher is determined to prove he can do it again as the headline act in Dublin’s 3Arena on Saturday night.
The ‘Strabanimal’ suffered his first ever defeat in the Bellator ranks back in August when Ricky Bandejas inflicted a shock first round stoppage on the Tyrone man.
That set-back hasn’t dented the 22-year-old’s confidence in any way and he will show the world why when he takes on Steven ‘Golden’ Graham during Bellator 217.
Having shown his mental and physical strength through his performances in seven straight professional wins, overcoming a ‘career-threatening’ knee injury (he tore both his Posterior Cruciate and Lateral Collateral ligaments) and a damaged hand, the Tyrone fighter believes he’s shown he has what it takes to reach the top.
However, one of his first goals is to prove to the ‘haters’ who took great joy in his first defeat that that result was a one-off.
“Everyone has to remember that there are fighters who can’t even come back from that injury that I came back from – that was a career-threatening injury that kept me out for 14 months,” he stressed.
“I came back from that and went straight into a title contenders show, suffered my first defeat ever and now I’m bouncing back to be main event in my home crowd.
“There are very few fighters on this planet who have the mindset able to do that, can step up and do that but this is what I want and this is the reason why my brand is so big and this is the reason why people were putting me down when I was beat.
“No one was saying ‘did you see that guy beat James?’, they were all laughing and talking about me losing.
“I’m not scared of the big fall and nothing has changed, I’m still doing what I do, putting everyting on the line. I want to go big and if I’m scared of a fall, then I wouldn’t be going so big because that fall would be even bigger.
“But that’s what I have put myself up for and that’s why I am where I am and that’s why other people aren’t where I am.”
After dispatching Graham, who has three defeats and six wins, Gallagher is targeting a world title shot, but he is aware that won’t necessarilly be immediate.
“A world title shot is 100 per cent on the agenda, but that’s not going to happen. I’m a few fights away from that, I’m not deluded,” he acknowledged.
“I’m a few fights away from a world title, I have to climb my way back up, establish myself with a few first round, good clean wins.
“I want a world title after this, but that’s not how things work, but if it happens I’ll take it with both hands and work for it.
“I just want to fight all the time and I’ll keep fighting whoever they put in front of me and I’ll keep doing what I do.”
Bellator 217 will be broadcast live on Sky Sports tomorrow night.