Joe Ward retained his Irish Elite light-heavyweight title following a commanding win over Ken Egan at the National Stadium in Dublin last night.
The “clash of the southpaws”, a repeat of the 2011 final which Ward also won, saw the current European champion rack up a 29-10 victory over the 2008 Olympic silver medalist.
Egan probably scored the first point of this encounter with a right jab within the first three seconds. However, from that point on Ward began to take control of the contest and claimed the first 9-5 before forcing Egan into a standing count in the second en route to stretching his lead 17-8 by the end of the round.
The third round was all Ward also, and while Egan managed to find the target with his trademark jabs, the 2010 AIBA World Youth champion was picking up more scores with some power-packed combinations. It was an emphatic statement of intent by the 18-year-old, who, if he remains at light-heavy, looks set to dominate the 81Kg division in Ireland in the second decade of the 21st century the same way that Egan dominated the opening 10-years.
“I’m delighted with my performance. I went in there with the right tactics. I used them well and I got the right result, said Ward, who also scooped the boxer of the Championships award.
“I knew if I made him miss he would walk into the big shots. No disrespect to him, he came out in the first round to fight. He did not come out to move – he came out to go forward.
“I really enjoyed it. I knew what was going to happen and how long it would take because I had the bigger shots. I had the technique in them and I really performed well.”
“Kenny is a legend. It’s good that there is someone new coming in taking over from Kenny. Hopefully I can do as much as he did.”
Egan, gracious in defeat, said that if Ward qualified for the Olympics that he would put money on him to finish amongst the medals.
Meanwhile, Michael McDonagh withstood a third round surge from David Oliver Joyce to secure a 17-14 victory over the St Michael’s Athy lightweight. Joyce put in a big three minutes, but defending champion McDonagh met fire with fire in a rematch of the 2011 decider
There was further disappointment for the Athy BC, after Adam Nolan, the defending champion, beat Beijing Olympian John Joe Joyce. Nolan, who boxes out of the Bray BC, held a 12-10 lead going down the final stretch of this three-rounder and was also in possession of a two point advantage at the end of a thrilling third frame.
However, there was no Bray BC double tonight after Ross Hickey retained the light-welterweight title at the expense of Stephen Coughlan. Hickey. a bronze medal winner at the 2008 European Championships, fired home some excellent right hooks throughout this encounter on his way to an impressive 21-5 verdict.
Belfast heavyweight Tommy McCarthy landed his first Irish Elite title at the third time of asking. The Ulster ace, who was beaten by Ken Egan in the 2009 and 2010 light-heavyweight finals, did it the spectacular way also, knocking out Christy Joyce with a big right 20 seconds from the final bell.
Waterford light-flyweight Lynne McEnery claimed the first title of the evening following a hard-fought victory over Oliwia Samsanov. McEnery held a 4-2 advantage at the end of the first en route to a 16-13 verdict. World number eight Paddy Barnes and Hugh Myres shared an exciting first frame 8-8, Barnes landing damaging looking body shots, Myres responding with right hooks to the head.
The second saw more of the same, Barnes finding the body and head with combinations, Myres’ right hand over the top picking up some valuable points to leave the light-flyweight decider poised on a 14-13 advantage to Barnes going into the final three minutes.
However, Barnes, the 2010 European champion, pulled away to secure a 21-17 win – and his sixth title in-a-row – from a top class contest.
“No easy fights here. I was surprised. They were fast punches but they were not heavy. We were catching each other with shots to the body. I’m confident I can get one of the four qualifying spots (at the Olympic qualifiers in Turkey in April). I feel I’m the best in Europe and I want to prove that. I want about three more flights and I’ll be flying.” said Barnes after his win.
London 2012 Olympian John Joe Nevin recorded a landslide 23-3 win over his cousin Michael Nevin in the bantamweight final. Michael, who boxed bravely throughout, took a standing count off a combination near the end of the second and was dropped by a right in the third as two-time AIBA World medalist John Joe cruised to his fifth Elite crown on-the trot.
World Youth bronze medalist Michaela Walsh took a standing count in the third versus Dervla Duffy in the women’s featherweight final. However, it was Walsh’s hand that was raised in victory by a two-point margin at the end of four entertaining rounds.
Irish 2012 Olympian Michael Conlan registered the red corner’s fifth straight win of the night versus Chris Phelan in the first of the televised bouts. Conlan, who had his dad and brother, John and Jamie, working his corner, earned a 19-11 decision over Chris Phelan to successfully defend the flyweight title he won for the first time in 2011.
Conlan took the first round 6-2 and was 13-7 up at the end of the second. The Belfast stylist landed a stunning right in the final stanza of this encounter, but, and credit to Phelan, the Ryston BC man kept firing in punches right up to the concluding bell.
Defending champion and 2012 Olympian Darren O’Neill received a walkover in the middleweight section after Conor Coyle withdrew injured. Con Sheehan secured his fifth Irish title in a row after chalking up a 25-10 win over Dublin super-heavyweight Sean Turner. The Drimnagh BC clubman raised the decibels with a sustained flurry mid-way through the second, but Sheehan regained the momentum to post a convincing win. All of tonight’s winners were boxing out of the red corner.
Adam McClean, Martin Brereton, Stephen Reynolds and Denis Galvin received awards tonight for their service and loyalty to Irish amateur boxing. The quartet were presented with their awards by the Deputy Lord Mayor of Dublin, Michael O’Sullivan.
The 2012 Elite National Championships were proudly sponsored by the Irish Daily Star.
Elite 2012 Championships Finals February 3rd (7.30pm) National Stadium Dublin (Running order) 48Kg: (Light-flyweight): Lynne McEnery (St Pauls) beat Oliwia Samsanov (Cavan) 16-13 49Kg: (Light-flyweight) Paddy Barnes (Holy Family) beat Hugh Myres (Ryston) 21-17 56Kg: (Bantamweight) John Joe Nevin (Cavan) beat Michael Nevin (Portlaoise) 23-3 57Kg: (Featherweight) Michaela Walsh (Holy Family) beat Dervla Duffy (Ryston) 15-13 52Kg: (Flyweight) Michael Conlan (St John Bosco) beat Chris Phelan (Ryston) 19-11 81Kg: (Light-heavyweight) Joe Ward (Moate) beat Ken Egan (Neilstown) 29-10 60Kg: (Lightweight) Michael McDonagh (St Marys) beat David Oliver Joyce (St Michaels Athy) 17-14 75Kg: (Middleweight) Darren O’Neill (Paulstown) beat Conor Coyle (St Josephs) W/O 69Kg: (Welterweight) Adam Nolan (Bray) beat John Joe Joyce (St Michaels Athy) 17-15 64Kg: (Light-welterweight) Ross Hickey (Grangecon) beat Stephen Coughlan (Bray) 21-5 91Kg: (Heavyweight) Tommy McCarthy (Oliver Plunkett) beat Christy Joyce (St Michael’s Athy) KO3 91+Kg: (Super-heavyweight) Con Sheehan (Clonmel) beat Sean Turner (Drimnagh) 25-10 Boxer of the Championships: Joe Ward (Moate BC)