Heavyweight Hero Jack Marley wins European GOLD

Jack Marley is the European under-22 heavyweight CHAMPION.

The Monkstown BC big man dominated Roberto Lizzi in the continental championships in Croatia this evening, underlining yet again that he is one of Ireland’s biggest boxing hopes for the next decade.

The final bout of these championships in holiday city of Poreč, Marley tore through his Italian opponent to join Roscommon light middleweight Lisa O’Rourke and Fingal bantam Niamh Fay in the winners enclosure.

With a sensational mix of fast hands and obvious power, the 19-year-old had far too much for Lizzi, an established heavyweight, winning wide and getting those in Irish boxing circles very excited.

Marley burst onto the scene at this tournament last Summer, scoring a stoppage in his opening bout before eventually coming home with a bronze medal. Competing in his first Irish Elite championships a few months later he then became Ireland’s second-youngest heavyweight champion – after Con Sheehan – while still only 18 years of age.

Such was his age and inexperience, it was decided for Marley to be built gradually and he was not part of the team that went to the World Championships in Serbia. His work with Monkstown and in the High Performance certainly looked to have paid dividends in Poreč where he dominated his quarter and semi-finals versus Poland and Turkey respectively before doing the exact same today.

Lizzi, the reigning Italian Elite champion, had had a more perilous route to the decider, with split wins over Hungarian, German, and Slovakian opposition, and was no match for the speed and power of Marley.

While his opening two fights were against back-foot boxers he had to break down, Lizzi was of a more traditional heavyweight mode and looked to stand and trade with the young Dub – and Marley was more than willing to oblige.

Digging the body well in the opening round, Marley offered the cleaner work versus his aggressive Italian foe as both threw punches in bunches. Lizzi did get through with some long backhands but it was a unanimous round for the Irishman – with the Montenegrin judge giving him a 10-8.

Marley didn’t take his foot off the pedal in the second, whipping in scything hooks to the body like a grizzled Mexican. Lizzi was running out of ideas as he tried to force things, making it quite messy as the Monkstown man again took the round unanimously, building an unassailable lead on the cards.

While he needed just to survive the final round to top the podium, Marley didn’t take a step back as Lizzi swung for the fences. Indeed, like throughout the fight, the damaging punches were coming from the teenager in the red vest who was picking off his Italian opponent as he marauded in.

Going to the cards with absolutely no doubt, Marley was unanimously confirmed Ireland’s newest European champion with the scorelines reading 30-26 x2, 30-27 x2, 29-28.

It has been an incredible rise for the teenage talent who will now set his sights on the senior European Championships which are due to take place later this year.

A sensational tournament for Ireland, they bring home seven medals in total – with Marley, O’Rourke, and Fay taking gold along with a silver for Mayo middleweight Aoibhe Carabine, and bronzes for Wicklow welter Kaci Rock, Bangor bantam Dylan Eagleson, and Offaly lightweight Paul Loonam.

Joe O'Neill

Reporting on Irish boxing the past five years. Work has appeared on irish-boxing.com, Boxing News, the42.ie, and local and national media. Provide live ringside updates, occasional interviews, and special features on the future of Irish boxing. email: joneill6@tcd.ie