European bronze medalist Dean Walsh was beginning his campaign for a fifth straight Irish Elite Senior title, but was dumped out at the semi-final stage by Galway teenager Kieran Molloy on a 3-2 split-decision.
The Oughterard welterweight has long been tipped as one to watch among Irish boxing hardcores and took centre stage at the weekend with what Andy Lee labelled the best performance of the semi-finals.
19-year-old Molloy was just too long, too fast, and too skilful for Walsh. What’s frightening though is the youngster’s confidence – this was a performance he had been planning since his mid-teens.
“The first time I sparred Dean I was 15, in the old High Performance,” Molloy recalled for Irish-Boxing.com following the win.
“Back then, he was very good, but I knew by the time I was 17, 18, that I would definitely be able to beat him. I saw that he was Senior champion, but I saw the potential in myself.”
“The few times I sparred him, I had felt very comfortable.”
Molloy approached the bout with clinical precision, and described how “before the championships, I was studying Dean Walsh’s style, I knew what I had to do against him, and the plan I had going into the ring was to just keep the distance long.”
“I knew what shots he was going to throw, so I was catching him on the way in. I didn’t want to get involved because he’s pretty quick in close, so I wanted to keep my distance and set the pace myself.”
“The plan we had worked to a tee and I’m just delighted with it. I thought I won all three rounds pretty comfortably.”
European bronze at Schoolboy and Junior level, gold at the Nikolay Pavlyukov ‘Mini-World Youths’, and a Senior silver at the Feliks Stamm last year, Molloy has had plenty of success up until now and has racked up a phenomenal 178-12 record.
“I’m pretty experienced for my age,” remarked the remarkably cool customer.
“I’ve fought a lot of the best lads around, I’ve been boxing since I was twelve years old.”
“That’s only the semi-finals, I’m going to forget about that and I’m going to work on the gameplan now for Saturday’s final and hopefully it all goes to plan. One fight at a time.”
In the 69kg decider on Saturday night, live on RTÉ, Molloy will face Newry fighter Eugene McKeever from the Holy Family Drogheda club.
Somewhat familiar with each other, although never having shared a competitive ring, Molloy noted how “he’s a good lad, I’ve trained with him a few times up at the High Performance.”
“I’m looking forward to the final now.”