By Matt Thompson
Photos: Emily Harney
This Saturday, welterweight Derek “The Surgeon” Silveira (8-0, 4 KOs) of Salem, Massachusetts will get the opportunity of a lifetime to box at the famed Boston Garden (currently the TD Garden) against the top pound-for-pound fighter in New England, world-ranked Danny O’Connor (19-1, 7 KOs) from neighboring Framingham. Fresh off the second defense of his New England welterweight title – which he won by a thrilling sixth-round knockout over big-punching William Correa back on November 10th – Silveira rested for three days before returning to the gym to prepare for what he sees as a golden opportunity to secure his future.
“When the call came, I did not hesitate,” Silveira said to FightNews. “I know I can beat him. We’re both good boxers, but I think I’m the bigger puncher, the bigger, stronger man, and just as fast. Nothing in Danny O’Connor scares me!”
Silveira and O’Connor were one weigh-class apart throughout their long amateur careers, so they never faced each other under competitive conditions, but sparred several times.
“I always felt that I did very well with sparring Danny, and at the time I was not in the best shape of my career, not really taking boxing seriously like I do now.”
Silveira, a veteran of 300-plus amateur fights, spent a lot of his youth doing as much fighting in alleys as in the ring.
Turning pro in 2008, Silveira fought sporadically, only entering the ring once a year for the first three years of his career. In 2011, fledgling promoter Chris Traietti, who fought on the same New England Amateur team as Silveira years earlier, invited the popular and affable Silveira to box on his first pro show, and has made him a mainstay since, running up 5 wins in 19 months, including winning the New England Welterweight Title and defending it twice in front of sold-out crowds.
At his most recent fight, O’Connor was a very interested ringside observer, congratulating Silveira in the ring after his dramatic win at the SportsZone in Derry, New Hampshire.
Silveira feels that in spite of O’Connor’s greater experience as a professional, he’s had the stronger pro style throughout his career.
“My first trainer was a pro fighter and pro trainer who taught me a professional style,” explained Silveira. “It was a detriment as an amateur. I lost a lot of decisions because of my style. O’Connor went farther than me because he was a good amateur, he had that amateur style all along. He’s just starting to settle into a pro style; I’ve had that all along.”
When considering O’Connor’s amateur pedigree and pro career, Silveira is vocal about the differences.
“He’s had the advantages: the backing, the big-money promoters, all the chances. He’s fought hard and earned it, but while he had promoters Warriors (Boxing) and DiBella (Entertainment) and training camps, I was training in an attic,” described Silveira. “I’ve had to struggle for everything I had. When I was younger, I didn’t take it so seriously, but it’s different now: This is my life! If he wants to beat me, he has to be prepared to take my life in that ring because that’s what it’s going to take for him to win.”
Silveria’s manager Kevin Tobin confirms Silveira’s change in attitude and training habits.
“I’ve been with Derek ten years,” said Tobin. “He’s matured, changed from a wild kid into a man. He has a wife and baby now, and really takes his career seriously. It’s not a hobby for him now; like he said, it’s his life. He’s a grown man now, a mature, determined, good man.”
Tobin and long-time trainer Doug Wear agree that Silveira’s work ethic and conditioning are nothing short of remarkable.
“He gets stronger as the fight goes on,” described Wear. “He’s been in three eight-rounders now, only one going the distance, but he looked amazing in the last two rounds of the last one, like a young Sugar Ray Leonard—fast, strong, and elusive! In the other fights, his power started to really show. If he can do a strong eight rounds, ten will be just as easy.”
“I have the perfect game plan,” says Silveira. “I’m going to do everything he does better. I’ll outslug him when he wants to bang, I’ll outbox him when he wants to box. This is a dream come true for me, for any fighter in New England: Fighting at the Boston Garden! Danny has a world ranking and this is my chance to take a giant step forward with my career. Last year was great year and this is going to be the perfect beginning for this year!”
Tickets for “TD Garden Night at the Fights” are available at the TD Garden box office (617.624.1000) and Ticketmaster outlets (800.745.3000).