By Jonny Stapleton
ROSS Hickey found himself back on the London 2012 trail after European gold medallist Ray Moylette failed to secure Olympic qualification at the World Championships-but is adamant his sole focus is on retaining his Irish light welterweight title in the National Stadium this weekend.
Victory for Hickey over Stephen Coughlan in Friday’s final will not just ensure he takes the Irish belt for the second consecutive year it will put him pole position to travel to Turkey for the final Olympic qualifiers in April.
However, despite being handed an Olympic life line the Grangecon talent after initially losing out to Moylette for the right to represent Ireland in the World championships, Hickey hasn’t taken his eyes of the domestic prize.
“I am focused on the title now. I will look at Olympic qualification and think about that after. The main for me this week is to retain my Irish title,” Hickey told www.irish-boxing.com.
Hickey is favourite going into the tie against Coughlan but it is not a tag that sits comfortable with the 64kg champ.
The Kilkenny pugilist is expecting a tough test from a ‘hungry’ fighter and points out two tough battles against Phil Sutcliffe and Niall Murray have taken their toll.
“I look at this fight as I have the last two. I am boxing against a lad who is trying to take my title away. I know Stephen is hungry for this. I know him well and he is improving all the time. He will be eager to be the champion. I thought I boxed well enough in the first two rounds of the semi final. I felt a little tired in the third. I had two tough fights ahead of the final. Phil Sutcliffe and Murray are two strong boys and I am just happy to be in the final.”