Tony Browne warns there is more than one light heavyweight in Ireland.
While Joe Ward grabs the spotlight, rightfully so considering his achievements, this year’s Elite Senior finalist claims he isn’t training just to make up the numbers.
Ward boxed today in the Last 16 of the World Championships having won a third European gold earlier this Summer. The 23 year old defeated Georgian Iago Kiziria and will box for bronze tomorrow. However, despite his international success, his Irish final clash with Browne probably remains the toughest fight that Ward has had this year.
After taking a break, Browne is now back training ahead of next year’s tournament where he plans to go one better. Recently named an ambassador for Nissan, the St Michael’s Inchicore man is promising to be better than ever when the 2018 championships roll round.
The Dubliner told Irish-Boxing.com that “I am just back of a break and I have to say it was very good for me. I am very motivated and I think I am training at levels I never trained before.”
“I obviously had that thing with Nissan which takes a big financial burden off me too. It allows me to train harder.
“I had a good year last year too. I think I developed and matured a lot. I think in the final of the Elites I showed what I am made of.”
“This year I am going to take it up a notch again and it’s going to be an exciting championships.”
The 22 year old is eyeing another clash with Ward. Their bout in February certainly got people paying attention to Browne and a rematch could not only be intriguing, but could be one of the more eagerly anticipated finals in the next Senior instalment.
“I would like to think so,” said Browne.
“I think there is no reason it won’t be the same again and I think it’s definitely a fight people should be looking forward to.”
“I know for a fact I am going to put in more than I have before. I am training like an animal and I’ll keep that up.”
Since that fight Browne has shared the ring with Ward in a sparring capacity. Indeed the nature of these sessions, more so than the action itself, has given the Rathmines man confidence.
Browne recalled how “obviously in the High Performance he was getting more attention than I was because I wasn’t going away to majors.”
“We did spar of course, but I suppose the two of us didn’t show everything we have in there. That is inevitable when we could be rivals in the ring in the future.”
There are some who suggest that, even if he overcomes Ward if they meet again, that Browne could still be hard pushed to become the High Performance’s number 1 light heavy priority.
Ward has tournament winning experience, is deemed one of the most naturally gifted punchers ever to wear a vest with an Ireland crest and, possibly even more worrying for Team Brown, High Performance Director Bernard Dunne has claimed Ward will captain Ireland for the Tokyo Olympic Cycle and be involved in the crafting of a vision for the team.
Browne claims that statement hasn’t altered his self belief or his approach, and seems content in the knowledge all he can control is his own performance.
Being handed the captaincy has benefited Ward according to all reports, but of the Olympic claim Browne notes how “it’s a big statement to say that anyone will be captain when it is so far away. Someone could break their hand or turn pro. It’s a long way off there are a lot that can happen, so it is a big statement.”
“Nothing is definite in boxing so I don’t read into it. It doesn’t bother me. I don’t think about Joe Ward I focus of what I can do and I focus on making sure I am ready to defeat whoever I face.”
Ward had talked to promoters earlier this year and was considering an offer from Hayemaker Promotions before he elected to remain amateur. Some say he could be tempted to listen to offers if he tops the podium in the current Worlds.
Such an occurrence would open a direct Olympic pathway for the likes of Browne and Newry’s Conor Wallace, but the well-spoken Dubliner claims he is staying around regardless.
“There was talk of him going pro, but I am not concerning myself with what Joe’s plans are. I am focused on my own performance and what I can do this year,” he added before cooling talk of a pro move himself.
With a style suited to the pro game and a trainer in Steven O’Rourke who works with pros Steve Collins Jr and Victor Rabei, a move to the paid game would be a reasonable one for Browne.
However the Dubliner stressed that “I haven’t thought about going pro. I happy were I am and I am focused on achieving as an amateur. There is an element of the pro style working here with Steven, considering the other fighters here and I am more geared for the longer rounds, but I am not looking at going pro yet.”
Browne also suggested his Olympic future doesn’t rely on his performance in the Seniors this time out.
“There is three years to the Olympics and its’ not that long since I joined the elites. In terms of boxing experience and how many fights I’ve had, I am only a baby.”
“I am only going to improve and improve a lot. Getting to the top is a real goal of mine.”