4 February 2009 – By Bernard O’Neill
Defending champion John Joe Joyce believes that he will have his work cut out at the eagerly anticipated Irish Daily Star sponsored 2009 Elite National Senior Championships.
The opening bell for the Championships will toll at the National Stadium in Dublin this Friday night (February 6).
And some of the best young boxers in the World and Europe will be chasing Joyce’s light welterweight crown at the South Circular Road venue.
Joyce, nicknamed triple J, will be targeting his fourth Irish senior title on the trot at IABA headquarters – but the 2008 Olympian has admitted that he’s been impressed with Crumlin team-mates Jamie Kavanagh and Philip Sutcliffe.
Kavanagh claimed a silver medal at the AIBA World Youth Championships in Mexico last year, and according to Joyce, of St Michael’s Athy, you’ll always know you’ve been in a bout if you step into the ring with Sutcliffe.
He said, “Jamie Kavanagh did very well for himself last year and to win a silver medal at the World Youth Championships was a fantastic achievement by any standards, so fair play to him.
“Philip Sutcliffe is another that is a threat, as is Niall McGinley and a few others, so I’m going to have my work cut out trying to retain my title.
“It is tough getting to the top in Irish senior boxing and once you get there you will always have to box to your full potential to stay there, otherwise you’ll be taken out.”
21-year-old Joyce suffered mixed fortunes last year. During the Olympic Games he was agonizingly edged out on a count-back by eventual gold medalist Felix Diaz of the Dominican Republic.
But he bounced back from that heartbreak to claim bronze at the European Championships in Liverpool. Despite international success, retaining his Irish senior title is the only thing on JJJ’s mind.
He added, “There is no point me looking ahead to the World Championships in Milan next September because if I don’t win at the Irish Senior Championships I won’t even be on the team.
“That is why the Irish Senior Championships are absolutely crucial to me. Everything starts with Irish Seniors and there is no point looking too far ahead.”
The weigh-in for the 2009 Elite National Senior Championships will be held at the National Stadium this Friday between 8am and 11am with the draw to follow.