If the Olympic lightweight gold medal winner and the featherweight with a hat trick of Commonwealth Games medals beat Zara Breslin and Kellie McLoughlin the home of Irish boxing respectively, they will become the first 11-time Irish National Elite [formerly Senior] Champions.
Currently, the Dublin and Belfast stars are 10-time titlist and sit in the standings beside Olympic medal winner Kenneth Egan and Jim O’Sullivan.
Neilstown’s Egan, one of the Stadium’s favourite sons, was the second to win 10 titles, following in O’Sullivan’s footsteps but was the first to win 10 in a row.
With his record primed to be broken this weekend, we felt it a good time to reflect on his success. Below is an interview by Bernard O’Neill previously published remembering the 10 in row.
REMEMBER KENNETH EGAN’S PERFECT 10
The first Irish boxer to claim ten consecutive National Elite belts believes you have to remain in your own zone to become a champion.
Kenneth Egan reckons that a second belt is the hardest to win but that leaving the National Stadium with any title is always a special moment, regardless of what number it is.
Between February 10, 2001, when he beat Cork’s Kevin Walsh (St Colman’s BC) on his Elite debut at middleweight, and March 5, 2010, when he beat Belfast’s Tommy McCarthy (Oliver Plunkett BC) in the light-heavy final, Egan reigned supreme after posting 22 victories on the bounce in two different weights.
However, the Beijing 2008 silver medalist admitted that his remarkable sequence of victories, which looks unlikely to be equaled any time soon, almost bit the dust during a see-saw quarter-final under the old computer scoring system 16 years ago.
“In 2002, I boxed Leon Senior and I won 14-13, so that could have been my run of ten out the window, said the three-time European Union Elite champion reflecting on his most difficult encounters.
“It was a close one, but he was a good boxer. I beat Marvin Lee and Conall Carmichael. Darren O’Neill was another tough opponent. He was coming on strong,” added the Neilstown BC southpaw.
“Obviously, Joe Ward who beat me, but out of the ones that I won, I’d say it (toughest opponent) would have to be Leon in 2002. It was such a close fight.”
The Dublin lefty also claimed two European Elite bronze medals and two further European Union medals (both bronze) in his career.
“Winning the second one is always the hardest. After winning your first title the expectations are on you again to win your second, all eyes are on you,” continued the former AIBA World No. 3 ranked light-heavy.
“Olympic year is also very important and the pressure is on. In 2004, the pressure was on to win that year and again in 2008. Olympic year can add a bit of spice to the Seniors. People start coming out of the woodwork, people start moving up and down weights.
“The Olympic years are the exciting ones, but it’s always nice to win the title. I won the Juniors, Intermediates and Seniors the first year (he’s the only Irish boxer to achieve that particular hat-trick). It was a fantastic achievement for me as I’d only just turned 19. I won two at middle and I moved up to light-heavy in 2003.
Egan will be back at the venue he graced and dominated in the first decade of this century this Saturday night for the Liffey Crane 2018 finals and he had well-earned advice for boxers making their debuts in Saturday’s finals at the home of Irish boxing.
“Finals always add pressure and expectations, having your friends come and see you. Stay in your own zone, control the controllable as they say, said Egan who was coached by Gerry Fleming and staff at the Neilstown club.
“Forget about everything, forget about the distractions outside the ring. Get the first round under your belt which is very important. Put everything into your first round and try and finish the third round at as high an intensity as you had in the first.”
“I’m looking forward to Saturday. Finals night is always a special occasion.”
Jim O’Sullivan also won ten Irish Elite crowns.
Ken Egan (Neilstown BC) – Ten of the Best
75kg: Ken Egan beat Conall Carmichael 11-6
75kg: Ken Egan beat Marvin Lee 15-10
81kg: Ken Egan beat Conall Carmichael 12-4
2003 (for 2004)
(Elites were held twice in 2003 ahead of qualifiers for Athens 2004)
81kg: Ken Egan beat Marvin Lee 8-2
81kg: Ken Egan beat Darren O’Neill 27-7
81kg: Ken Egan beat Darren O’Neill 21-12
81kg: Ken Egan beat Willie Mitchell TKO1
81kg: Ken Egan beat Ciaran Curtis 19-4
81kg: Ken Egan beat Tommy McCarthy 9-5
81kg: Ken Egan beat Tommy McCarthy 8-5