By Jonny Stapleton
KENNY Egan knows a thing or two about winning an Olympic medal and the Neilstown fighter is confident teenager Joe Ward has what it takes to claim light heavyweight gold in London later this year.
The 2008 Beijing silver medallist tasted first hand the power of the Moat sensation in the most eagerly anticipated domestic clash in recent Irish boxing history last Friday night- and so impressed was Ireland’s most decorated amateur that he is backing Ward to win on the biggest stage of all.
Egan, who was beaten comprehensively in his twelfth consecutive Irish Senior final by Ward, has fought the best amateur boxing has to offer over the last decade- and is adamant his Irish team mate is as powerful as any man on the world stage.
“He is physically strong, probably the strongest I ever boxed. The Russia Artur Beterbiyev was probably the best I fought. He had similar strength but was technically exceptional too. Joe can improve technically but is young and an exceptional talent,” Egan revealed after a bout that ensured the National Stadium was standing room only.
“I’m going to put a couple of grand on him to win a medal. Hopefully he gets his head right because he has the talent to go all the way. He is a strong lad. He is very to hit because when he throws his shots his body mass goes with it and his head moves. It was hard to nail him. He is a good fighter and I have no excuses. I took some good shots. I have a good chin, after years of practice. I wish him the best of luck.”
Egan didn’t look too distraught after he failed to get revenge in the rematch and he seemed to take some pride in playing his part in the most anticipated Senior finals in recent history.
“It was great to see the atmosphere tonight and that’s the way the Stadium is meant to be. There was a great build up and it should be like that every year and not just for myself and Joe. All the fights here were great tonight and there was a lot on the line.”
At 30 Egan is certainly the oldest on the Irish amateur team, but he is determined to continue. The 10 time National Champion, who released a book late last year, is adamant the Kenny Egan story isn’t over yet.
“I’m going to be back again. I’ll take a break now. There’s nothing to do now but go back to the drawing board. I am not retiring just yet.”