Merven Clair is tailor-made for Aidan Walsh according to the Irish expert on the man standing between the Belfast fighter and an Olympic medal.
Ballymena’s Enda Kennedy not only shared the ring with the southpaw from Mauritius but beat the two-time Olympian in the quarter-final of the 2011 Commonwealth Youth Games – and believes another Irish fighter will deny him of medal again tomorrow morning.
Looking back at that bout on the Isle of Man, Kennedy recalls Clair liked to force the action and told Irish-boxing.com he found it quite easy to punish his aggression and pick him off in their meeting a decade ago.
While Clair has no doubt improved massively since then, the now-retired Kennedy believes if he takes a similar approach into the Tokyo ring in the early hours of tomorrow morning he will play into Walsh’s hands and the Monkstown Matador will register a massive victory.
🔴🔴🔴 The Belfast Matador 🔴🔴🔴
Aidan Walsh is in a position to become the break-out Irish star of the Olympics ☘️
Huge fight coming up in the early hours of Friday morning pic.twitter.com/mlqBuXBYue
— Irish-Boxing.com (@Irishboxingcom) July 27, 2021
“It was some time ago now but from what I remember I picked him off the whole fight,” Kennedy told Irish-Boxing.com.
“He just kept coming forward, so it suited me lovely. Back then I wouldn’t say he was bad but all he seemed to do was rush forward, he didn’t really have much style, but we were both only 18.”
From what he knows of the Mauritian and Walsh, the former amateur of note believes the Belfast welterweight is clear favourite.
“I think he will suit Aidan into the ground. Aidan has brilliant movement and is brilliant on the back foot, so I think Aidan will be absolutely fine,” he adds before reflecting further on the Commonwealth Youth Games of 2011 where he medalled alongside Joe Fitzpatrick and Conor Doherty.
“Honestly it was the best experience of my life. I loved every minute of it.”
Like a lot of young talents life eventually gets between them and a sport that requires massive dedication – Kennedy is no different. The Ulsterman shared the ring with the likes of Fitzpatrick, James Tennyson, Keane McMahon, George Bates, James Fryers, Michael O’Reilly, and Tiernan Bradley in his vest-wearing days, reaching national finals and winning an Ulster Intermediate title – and claiming the Best Boxer award in the process.
However, watching a former foe – and particularly someone he defeated – compete on the biggest stage of all allows him to think ‘what if’.
“I stopped a good few years ago now I had a child and the time wasn’t on my hands as much,” explained the barber. “It shows me I definitely had something when I was young, I just wish I had have stuck to it now.”