In a repeat of last year’s final, Brendan Irvine once again overcame fellow Belfast man TJ Waite, this time in the semi finals, at the ongoing National Elite Championships.
In what was an unrecognisable fight compared to their match-up last time, the pair threw shots with abandon throughout. It was the Wee Rooster however who landed the greater number of, and the heavier looking, blows.
Irvine noted afterwards how “everyone was saying last year that it was a boring fight – it wasn’t really though, it was just a cagey fight.”
“This time obviously we knew each other a lot more, we’ve done a lot more training together. He’s a great lad, I train with him, and I respect him. It was good to get the win, I’m very happy with the performance.”
“The gameplan worked very well, the shots I’ve been practicing in the gym seemed to fall into place.”
The win sees the St Paul’s ABC man progress to the final on Friday where he will face Mayfield’s Tommy McCarthy.
It certainly seemed that Irvine was the stronger man in the ring, and the muscle-bound Belfast man is slowly but surely developing into the 52kg weight class. He explained that “I feel brilliant. My punches themselves have definitely got stronger over the past couple of months.”
“I sat down with my strength and conditioning coach [Robbie Bremner] when I got home from Rio and we worked on a plan from when I got home until these championships. It’s been tough, but everything’s been worth it. It’s a credit to him, he’s been there at seven in the morning most mornings [up until fights], it hasn’t been easy, but all the hard work is paying off.”
“I feel I’m a lot stronger since I got home from Rio, I’ve grown into the weight a bit more.”
Being a Rio Olympian, Irvine is one of the ‘stars’ of the tournament. While he is not one to revel in the limelight, he is grateful for the benefits that come with an increased profile.
“I’m not that kind of person to run about with a big head,” he said. “Boxing’s the hardest sport in the world and to get in the ring itself makes you a champion, a legend. Obviously it’s good to get the respect and support, and I’ve gotten a few sponsors. It’s good to get the recognition and get people coming to help you.”
Eric Donovan joins Gavan Casey and Joe O’Neill on Episode 2 of the Irish Boxing Show: