IABA Press Officer Bernard O’Neill
Hugh Myres or Evan Metcalfe will advance to meet 2010 European champion and 2008 Olympic bronze medalist Paddy Barnes in the 2012 Irish Daily Star sponsored Elite Championship light-flyweight final on Friday, February 3rd.
Myres and Metcalfe clash in the opening bout of this weekend’s semi-final program at the National Stadium, with the winner progressing to face defending champion Barnes, who received a bye into the final.
Flyweight Michael Conlan, who has the distinction of qualifying for the London Olympics and parachuting straight in at number 14 in the AIBA world rankings in his first year boxing senior, will open his title defence against Corinthians BC stand out Shane Roche, followed by John Joe Nevin versus Sean McComb in the bantamweight class.
Nevin, the title holder, had a year to remember in 2011 as he became the first Irish male boxer to win two medals at World Championships level and also qualified for his second Olympic Games on-the-trot.
He’s also ranked 4th in the world by AIBA. McComb, meanwhile, has one win under his belt so far and will be looking to cause an upset on Friday evening.
Head coach Billy Walsh said that he was anticipating some top class contests at the National Stadium.
“I’m looking forward to the weekend. We have world class boxers in each weight division. They (St Michael’s Athy) are guaranteed two boxers in the finals, but unfortunately two of them are going to lose as well. It’s a long, long winding road to qualification, he said.
Friday’s 60Kg pairing sees current champion Michael McDonagh face 2010 European bronze medalist Tyrone McCullough in what should be an intriguing lightweight battle.
Ross Hickey, a bronze medal winner at the 2008 European Championships in Liverpool, walked away from the 2011 Elite Championships with the Irish light-welterweight accolades and the boxer of the tournament award.
The Grangecon BC man is in against Niall Murray, who secured an impressive win over David Roche last weekend.Hickey opened his account with a hard-fought decision over Philip Sutcliffe in an exciting and uncompromising 64Kg clash.
Adam Nolan, the reigning 69Kg champion, beat European Youth silver medalist Michael O’Reilly last Saturday and is just two wins away from consolidating his position as Ireland’s top welterweight.
However, the formidable talent of Willie McLaughlin will be standing in his way on Friday night.
Billy Walsh added that he believes that the Nolan versus McLaughlin three-rounder go right down to the wire.
“Adam has grown in stature since the Senior Championships last year and Willie has made the top eight at the World Championships and the top eight at the European Championships, It looks very, very tight.”
London 2012 Olympian Darren O’Neill and Conrad Cummings have “previous.” Both men met in an incident-packed middleweight semi-final last year which O’Neill shaded 4-3 en route to his third Irish Elite belt in-a-row.
Cummings, who claimed silver at December’s Olympic Test Event in London – he was edged out 11-8 by Russia’s current European champion Makim Koptyakov after taking a 3-2 lead in the first round – , will be eager to put the record straight on Friday.
Joe Ward turned 18 in October following a whirlwind two years which saw him claim AIBA World Junior and Youth titles and also secure his first Irish Elite title and a European Senior Championship gold medal, medal hauls that pushed him to number 3 in the world in the AIBA rankings, the highest position of any Irish male (Katie Taylor is ranked number one for the last six years) boxer.
His opponent on Friday, Davey Joe Joyce, is no stranger to standing on a podium at the AIBA World Youth Championships as he won a bronze medal for Ireland at this level in Mexico in 2008.
Joyce, has had his fair share of injuries – including a broken hand – since he finished in a podium position in the high altitude of Guadalajara, but he’s now back to full fitness and eager to make an impression.
“To win the Seniors your going to have to beat them (Joe Ward or Ken Egan) along the way. They probably have the favourites tag but it wouldn’t bother me stepping in there, said Joyce.
“For them to beat me they’re going to have to work hard for the three rounds, and they’re going to have to earn it.”
Ward, however, is very determined to hold onto his Irish belt.
“I have a lot more senior titles behind me than I had last year and I’m not going to hand back the title that easy.I’m looking forward to it as I’m probably in the best shape I was ever.”
The heavyweight title is technically vacant this term as 2011 heavyweight champion Con Sheehan, who is in against Ken Okungobowa Friday, has moved up a notch to super-heavyweight.
Likewise, two-time Elite finalist Tommy McCarthy, also a bronze medalist for the 2008 World Youth Championships in Mexico, will fancy his chances.
However, Stephen Ward, who he faces Friday evening, and Christy Joyce and Patrick Corcoran, who trade leather in the corresponding semi-final on Saturday,
will have a lot to say about that.
Sheehan, meanwhile, will be aiming to edge a step close to his fifth Irish Elite title in -a-row against Okungbowa, who is now boxing out of the Moate BC.
(Cathal McMonagle won the Irish super-heavyweight title in 2011 but has not entered the Championships this year.)
Boxing begins at 7pm on Friday. The weigh-in will be held between 8.30am and 9.30am at the National Stadium.
2012 Elite Championships
Friday January 27th S/Finals (7pm)
49Kg: Hugh Myres (Ryston) v Evan Metcalfe (Crumlin)
52Kg: Michael Conlan (St John Bosco) v Shane Roche (Corinthians)
56Kg: John Joe Nevin (Cavan) v Sean McComb (Holy Trinity)
60Kg: Michael McDonagh (St Marys) v Tyrone McCullagh (Holy Family GG)
64Kg: Ross Hickey (Grangecon) v Niall Murray (Gorey)
69Kg: Adam Nolan (Bray) v Willie McLaughlin (Illies GG
75Kg: Darren O’Neill (Paulstown) v Conrad Cummings (Holy Trinity)
81Kg: Joe Ward (Moate) v David Joe Joyce (Ballinacargy)
91Kg: Tommy McCarthy (Oliver Plunkett) v Stephen Ward (Monkstown)
91+Kg: Con Sheehan (Clonmel) v Ken Okungbowa (Moate)
Saturday January 28th S/Finals (7pm)
51Kg: Emma Duffy Crumlin) v Ceire Smith (Cavan)
52Kg: Chris Phelan (Ryston) v Ruairi Dalton (Holy Trinity)
54Kg: Michelle Chamber (Castlebar) v Michelle Lynch (Golden Gloves)
56Kg: Michael Nevin (Portlaoise) v Glenn Murray (Corinthians)
60Kg: Carla Wright (Gleann) W/O
60Kg: Eric Donovan (St Michael’s Athy) v David Oliver Joyce (St Michael’s Athy)
64Kg: Sarah Close (Holy Family GG) W/O
64Kg: Stephen Coughlan (Bray) v Martin Wall (Crumlin)
60Kg: Patricia Roddy (Bray) v Claire Grace (Callan)
69Kg: Roy Sheahan (St Michael’s Athy) v John Joe Joyce (St Michael’s Athy)
75Kg: Sinead Kavanagh (Drimnagh) W/O
75Kg: Conor Coyle (St Jospehs) v Michael Reilly (Holy Family)
81Kg: Lauragh O’Neill (Paulstown) W/O
81Kg: Eamon Walsh (St Annes) v Ken Egan (Neilstown)
91Kg: Patrick Corcoran (Crumlin) v Christy Joyce (St Michael’s Athy)
91+Kg: Sean Turner (Drimnagh) v David Joyce (Moate