By Jonny Stapleton
THERE may not be too many trees around South Circular Road, but Irish fight fans are readying themselves for their very own Rumble in the Jungle in the National Stadium this coming January, according to Kenneth Egan.
The Beijing Olympic silver medallist claims his potential rematch with teenager Joe Ward has been afforded a build up worthy of Muhammad Ali and George Forman’s legendary super fight.
Irish boxing’s longest serving amateur was prevented from registering an unprecedented 11 consecutive Irish national titles by the 18 year old power house earlier this year and has a score to settle in next years tournament, which kick starts on January 20.
The amateur boxing legend, who won gold in the Olympic test event, knows his tussle with the Moate prodigy will not compare to Ali and Foreman’s legendary clash, but does believe it has all the ingredients to be an Irish classic.
A spot in the last Olympic qualifying tournament to be held in Turkey in April adds extra spice to a dust up to determine who is the best light heavyweight in Ireland and a rejuvenated Egan seems suitably excited.
“It’ll be a classic, Foreman-Ali they’re building it up to be. I’m sure he’ll reach the final and we’ll lock horns. Everybody’s talking about it already. It’s going to be a great fight. With three places left at light-heavy, one at heavyweight, it gave me more of an incentive to come down, but I have to get past Joe first,” Egan told Boxing News.
Like all time greats Ali and Foreman Egan believes both Irish fighters have the potential to collect a medal in London 2012.
However Ireland can only send one 81kg representative and Egan claims if it is not him he will be supporting a team mate and friend who will become a foe only for nine minutes in January.
“It’s an awful pity the two of us are at the same weight. If you sent the two of us to the Games we’d hopefully win medals. If he beats me, I’d shake his hand and wish him the best of luck. If I win, he’d do the same. There’s no bad blood in the team. I train with him every day of the week. There’s just nine minutes when we have to put that aside and just box. I have no enemies in the game. I love the sport. I love the people I meet from all over the world. Boxing’s been great to me. I’m the longest serving amateur boxer in the country at the moment.”