Little Big Man Tony Browne staying focused after eliminating reigning champ


Tony Browne‘s move up to heavyweight looks to be paying dividends following the Dubliner’s biggest win yet.

A comfortable light heavyweight, Browne moved up to heavyweight last year to pursue his Olympic dream as the Irish 81kg slot was essentially guaranteed to team captain Joe Ward.

Some may have doubted, but the Rathmines puncher has racked up a number of notable wins at 91kg and claimed perhaps his biggest yet on Saturday when he eliminated reigning champion Kirill Afanasev in the semi-finals of the National Elite Senior Championships.

Browne claimed a 3-1 split decision win at the National Stadium following a bloody brawl and reflected afterwards that “me and Kirill would be very familiar with each other, we’ve boxed each other, sparred each other, I think there was no holding off there, we got engaged in a war straight away.

“I knew in the back of my mind that if I was going to take his title I would have to go in there and rip it from him so I didn’t waste any time boxing like I normally do, dancing around the place, I just got stuck in and let the hands go.”

The giant Afanasev wouldn’t look out of place at super heavy and certainly had a weight advantage over Browne – like most boxers in the class.

However, the St Michael’s Inchicore man is having success by playing to his own strengths.

Browne hasn’t eaten his way up to the 91kg mark – and the full-time athlete notes how everything is a gradual process aimed towards reaching his peak in August 2020.

“It’s definitely not been 10 kilos!” he laughs before giving insight into the changes he has made over the past few months.

“”Put it this way, I’m able to have a full breakfast before the weigh-in no bother. Look, the weight change, it’s obviously a big jump from 81kg to 91kg.”

“I’ve got a really good S&C coach, Jay Kane, and he’s done wonders for me, he’s got me strong at the weight, helped me put on a few kilo.”

“I haven’t put on a massive amount of weight because if I was to do so it would effect my speed. I am actually feeling it on the fitness, a little bit, I’m adapting, but it’s not going to happen overnight or over a short period of time, I’m going to have to grow into the weight.”

“Please God things keep going the way they’re going.”

Things are certainly going well for Browne who defeated Liam Greene in the quarters and also has a recent Box Cup win over Dutch Olympian Peter Mullenburg.

Further detailing his switch, the 24-year-old described how “at heavyweight, you need to sit down a little bit and trade sometimes. The handspeed is slower but the physicality is definitely something I’ve noticed.”

“I’ve boxed in a good few internationals last year and I figured out it’s a bit of a different ball game at heavyweight but, as much as the heavier guys have advantages in there, they have disadvantages as well.”

 

tony browne

While Tokyo is the big goal, as it is for the vast majority of boxers in these championships, Browne is refusing to look too far ahead having been stung last year.

Edged out by Ward in the 2017 final, many felt Browne would coast to the 2018 light heavyweight title in the WSB-committed Moate man’s absence but he would lose a scrappy semi to Caoimhin Agyarko – a fight he feels he overlooked.

Having overcome the Last Four stage this time, Browne now stands just one win away from a first Senior title but is refusing to get ahead of himself despite beating last year’s champ.

In Athlone’s Kenny Okungbowa, he is faced with another physically massive opponent and one whom he lost out to in the finals of last year’s Celtic Box Cup.

Browne is looking forward to the challenge and notes how “there are things I definitely have to brush up on for next week, myself and Kenny would be familiar with each other as well.”

“I’m just going to focus on myself and, again, to be a great champion you have to beat great champions, credit goes to Kirill, he’s a great boxer, and we put on a great fight just as I expected.”

“The last Senior Championships, as you’d well know, I probably didn’t do what I should have done. I think last time I was probably thinking what was in front of me.”

“This time it’s minute for minute, round for round, point for point, I’m just going to stick to the process, trust the process, and have some fun.”

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Joe O'Neill

Reporting on Irish boxing the past five years. Work has appeared on irish-boxing.com, Boxing News, the42.ie, and local and national media. Provide live ringside updates, occasional interviews, and special features on the future of Irish boxing. email: joneill6@tcd.ie