Storm Kirill, however, plans to hold on to the Irish heavyweight spot for the foreseeable future.
The Smithfield heavyweight claimed his maiden Elite Senior title on Saturday night, overcoming Kevin Sheehy in a proper old tear-up which was shown live on RTÉ.
Of Russian parentage, Afanasev is highly rated within the IABA and the mature 91kg fighter has developed well since winning the 2014 Intermediate title.
In the semi-finals Jason Barron was blasted out inside the distance, while touted youngster Sheehy could not cope with the strength of Afanasev.
He told Irish-Boxing.com afterward that “this is the fittest I’ve been. I’ve been away with the Irish team in Finland and Eindhoven, and I’ve trained in the High Performance. It’s really brought me on.”
“I was only getting into it. The first round, the occasion got to me a bit. Even though I am used to fighting internationally.”
“My first final, third Seniors, I’ve always been a bit unlucky with split-decisions.”
The size difference between Afanasev and teenager Sheehy was stark, and he feels like he is now coming into his physical prime.
The well-conditioned puncher explained how I’m 25 now, I feel physically fit. Last year and this year was the most fit I’ve been. I’ve grown into my body.”
“There’s a few young lads coming up, but you have to grow into your weight at heavyweight, unlike the lighter weights.”
With Darren O’Neill’s future in the sport uncertain, and his own improvements staggering, Afanasev is primely placed to carry the heavyweight mantle.
“I think so,” he responded when he is asked can he be Ireland’s 91kg fighter going forward
“I’ve moved around with Darren and the other heavyweights. I don’t think there’s anyone, he [Sheehy] was the other heavyweight – I know there’s a couple of lads that didn’t enter this year.”
“This final is like the first step in a long journey in Irish boxing.
“I feel like it’s my time.”
For now though, Afanasev is just keen to continue developing and outlined how “they’ve mentioned a trip to America, and then with club we might be heading to Ukraine or Russia.”
“The more experience I get internationally, the more fights, the better.”
Photo Credit: Ricardo Guglielminotti – The Fighting Irish (ThefIrish)