Ward, Hickey and Barnes star at IABA Elite Finals

Joe Ward’s defeat of Kenny Egan may have been the ‘highlight of the night’ as the 2011 IABA National Elite championships came to a close at the National Stadium but it was a fine night’s boxing before a sizeable crowd at the home of Irish boxing.

After their clash, Joe Ward said  : “I was one point up at the end of the first round and he was beating me in the second round 4-2 but I knew I’d never give up — I’d fight to the bell and that’s what I did,”

“He deserved the public warning. He was keeping his head way down all the time. He would not come up to fight. He kept dropping his head. He deserved the two public warnings but, in the end, they did not make any difference because I would have won by a point anyway.

“The first knock-down was 100 per cent. I caught him with a left-right combination. Every shot I hit him I really hurt him. I could see he was all over the place. Then I caught him with a big right hand and a left hook and he went down again. I threw some great shots and they really deserved a point but they did not score them.

“I was really confident before the fight. I knew I would do it. I would not have been in there if I did not think I was going to win it.

“People were saying I am just 17 years old and I might not be mature enough but trust me I am a mature 17 year old and I’m one hell of a tough man as well.

“I knew my power would make a difference tonight. I hit him an early shot and I knew he started to wobble. I hit him a left hook on the ropes and I did not get the point. He got through with a sloppy shot and he got the point.”

A clearly disappointed Egan told the stunned media:

“What am I going to do about it … cry?”  “Fair play to Joe Ward — I was beaten by a better opponent on the night. He did things right and I didn’t, at least not all the things I wanted to do.

“Who knows what happens now, but I’m certainly not out of the Olympic picture yet.

“Joe goes to the World Championships in Baku in Azerbaijan in September and if he qualifies for London next year then that’s it for me at light-heavyweight — assuming Ward, who’s obviously a growing lad, is still light-heavyweight by that stage.

“Alternatively, if he does qualify at light-heavyweight, then I always have the option of a different weight, heavyweight being the obvious one,

European champ Paddy Barnes, from the Holy Family club, recorded a convincing 9-1 decision over Evan Metcalfe to claim his fifth successive title at light-flyweight. The Olympic bronze medallist said later:

“Maybe I just made it look easy but it was as easy as I would have expected,” he said. I am happy with the performance. It was my fifth title.

“As I said to his coach he is getting sparring off the second best bantamweight in Ireland (Willie Casey) but I get to spar the best, Carl Frampton.

“London 2012 is just another tournament along the way — that’s how I am looking at it now. Obviously I want to qualify for the Olympics at the world championships but I want to go to the world championships to win the world title. I want to be world champion.”

Michael Conlon came from behind to beat Chris Phelan 11-7 in an excellent flyweight contest. Phelan was 5-1 up early in the second round but Conlon turned things around in spectacular fashion to claim his first Elite crown.

In the middleweight category, Darren O’Neill made it three-in a row with a 7-4 decision over Jason Quigley in a repeat of the 2010 final which O’Neill also won. O’Neill was well on top last night.

“In the Welterweight final, former Champion Karl Brabazon met Bray Garda Adam Nolan. Brabazon, the 2005 Elite champion was behind from the start as Nolan produced a fantastic first round to lead 3-0 and then stretched that lead to 9-1 in the second before running out a 13-4 winner”

Tipperary heavyweight Con Sheehan, meantime, had to overturn a first round deficit to beat Galway’s Patrick Corcoran 9-3 to make  it four on the trot for the Clonmel BC.

The St Mary’s club in Dublin took home the lightweight title after David Oliver Joyce was disqualified for a low blow in the third versus Michael McDonagh.

The latter was 6-5 ahead in the closing stages of the third round when a eye-watering low blow forced him to take a 10-count and saw Joyce disqualified.

Tyrone McCullagh, a bronze medal winner at the European Championships in 2010 was hoping to make it a hat-trick for Belfast and a double for the Holy Family versus John Joe Nevin, a bronze medal winner at the 2009 AIBA World Championships.

But Nevin – despite a late surge from McCullagh – never looked back from opening up a 2-0 first round lead. Tonight’s win make it four on the trot for the Cavan BC bantamweight.

The light-welterweight crown went to 2008 European bronze medallist Ross Hickey at the expense of Philip Sutcliffe. The first round of this clash finished 3-3, but Sutcliffe took two thudding right hooks in the second, the first of which obliged the Crumlin BC man to take a standing count.

Sutcliffe then went down under a combination in the third as Hickey posted a convincing 14-4 decision in the battle of the former Elite champions.  Hickey, who has had a fantastic tournament, was also awarded  boxer of the Championships status .

In the only female Elite final of the evening, Sinead Kavanagh beat Patricia Roddy 13-4 to claim the middleweight crown for the Drimnagh BC.

World and European champion Katie Taylor received a walkover in the lightweight category. How the Irish boxing fans would love to see the Bray woman win an Irish title in the ring – alas  no Irish boxer has deigned to challenge her.

Defending super-heavyweight champ Cathal McMonagle was 3-1 in arrears at the end of the first against Athlone BC prospect Kenneth Okungbowa.But the Holy Trinity man levelled in the second en route to recording as 12-5 victory in the final contest of the evening.


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