Niall Kennedy resumes his unbeaten career against a former opponent for Andy Ruiz Jr, but does Ireland’s heavyweight need to quicken his climb up the rankings?

The Wexford man returns to America this weekend, having previously fought 11 times on US soil, and will next face Devin Vargas, an ex-US Olympian.

At the age of 35, Kennedy needs to stake his claim for a big-name fight by quickly forcing his way into title contention.

Kennedy has eight knockouts in 13 wins with one draw Kennedy has eight knockouts in 13 wins with one draw Kennedy has eight knockouts in 13 wins with one draw

What sets Kennedy apart from other heavyweights?

He is promoted by Ken Casey of Irish-American Celtic-punk band Dropkick Murphys, combining his professional boxing career with a day job as a member of Ireland’s Garda police force.

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Train Hard = Fight Easy 🥊 @niallbaskennedy August 17th MGM Springfield MA @murphysboxing @kendkm

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Kennedy was a late-starter in the pro ranks, beginning in his 30s, and also displayed early talent for GAA.

Has he traded punches with any top contenders?

Not yet, but Kennedy is eager to face a rival contender. He has, however, swapped punches with Anthony Joshua after being called into a training camp for sparring with Britain’s heavyweight star.

Had the honour of spending a bit of time wit this gent and honestly cant say a bad word about him his work ethic is 2nd to none and puts everything into his graft congratulations big man @anthonyfjoshua what a champion look who this man has beaten 👊👌 #gent pic.twitter.com/pu3N8W0ORr

— Niall Kennedy Boxer (@niallbaskennedy) September 23, 2018

What was the toughest test of Kennedy’s career?

A frustrating majority draw against Joe Caudle is the only blemish on the record of Kennedy, who claimed a 78-74 verdict on one of the scorecards with the two other judges scoring it 78-78.

American Alexis Santos held an 18-1 record when Kennedy defeated him by split decision.

Will Devin Vargas threaten his unbeaten record?

The 37-year-old American was a National Golden Gloves heavyweight champion in 2000 and 2001, but after a promising start in the paid ranks, Vargas has suffered a string of setbacks.

Devin Vargas represented America at the 2004 Olympic Games Devin Vargas represented America at the 2004 Olympic Games Devin Vargas represented America at the 2004 Olympic Games

He was stopped by Kevin Johnson and Dominic Breazeale, two former opponents of Joshua, while current unified champion Ruiz Jr halted Vargas in the opening round.

Can Kennedy surpass the achievements of Kevin McBride?