Michael Nevin, the kid who won three European gold medals (Schoolboy, Junior, Youth), a future star of Irish boxing. Indeed, while still at Youth level, many ‘in-the-know’ rated the Portlaoise talent as the best middleweight in the country.
Nevin rounded off his underage career in 2016 with a World Youth bronze – however, despite a growing buzz, there was no immediate move to Elite Senior level.
Club coach and former IABA President Pat Ryan was always keen for the youngster to develop. Time was on their side.
A mature decision no doubt – although Nevin himself has been pulling at the leash, eager to test himself on the bigger stages.
A steady stream of under-the-radar international fights helped the Laois fighter develop throughout 2017 and, at last, he has now been let loose on the Elite Senior Championships.
A pre-tournament favourite, two wins in two days at the weekend has seen Nevin make the final this coming Saturday where he will face Brett McGinty at the National Stadium, live on RTÉ.
“I’m a long time waiting for this,” the hungry 19-year-old admitted to Irish-Boxing.com.
“I’ve been waiting for it for a long time, since I was a young age, 11 years old. The Seniors were the main thing to win.”
“I’m looking forward to it. The last time I entered a competition was a year and two months ago, the Under-22s, and I had to pull out with a hand injury.”
“I’m back this year and I’m coming for that title.”
Headguards off, bodies developed, Elite Senior boxing is a whole different game and, if Nevin was the cocky type (he’s really not), there was a sharp reminder on Saturday night.
While his quarter-final win over David Biscevas was pure exhibition stuff, the semis against Belfast banger Gerard French saw a perfect left hook land square on the chin. The same shot had rendered John Maughan near unconscious the previous night, however Nevin managed to stay standing and took an eight count for the first time in his life.
It was on-the-job training in crisis management, and Nevin was able to quickly recompose and see out a points win.
The rangey orthodox described how “he was looking for the big shots, I knew that he was strong but he missed a lot. The plan was to make him miss and counter him.”
“He caught me with a nice shot in the second round, but I recovered fast and I still won the round. I won all the rounds easy.”
“That was the first count I’ve gotten so it was a bit of a shock, but it was gone very fast.”
“When he hit me I thought I didn’t need a count. I’ve a good chin, I’m able to take a good shot.”
“He was a tough, strong competitor and it was a good fight.”
Saturday sees Nevin take on Oakleaf’s McGinty, the last Irish fighter to defeat him.
Back in 2016, when both were welterweights, the Derry-Donegal pressure fighter defeated Nevin in the U18 Championships, with the rapidly growing Nevin moving up to the more comfortable middleweight class immediately afterwards
McGinty, who is making his middleweight debut in this tournament, has suggested that the pair’s previous meeting may be in the back of Nevin’s mind.
The Midlander though claims to have a different mindset completely.
“It’s just another opponent,” said Nevin with a genuine nonchalance,
“It’ll be a good fight. I can’t wait for it. I’ll give it a good go.”
“I can’t wait, being on TV, this is what I want, this is what I’ve dreamed of.”