Elite trio focus on Nationals

Three of Ireland’s boxing elite are turing their attentions to the National senior championships after featuring in the World Series of Boxing (WSB) last week.

Olympic silver and bronze medal winners, John Joe Nevin and Michael Conlon along with light-heavyweight sensation Joe Ward all performed in the quasi-professional platform in London’s York Hall.

Over the five-round contests — where boxers compete without head-gear or vests — Nevin and Ward scored victories, with Conlon losing to World No.1 Andrew Selby.

Nevin and Ward were performing for the British Lionhearts and Conlon for the USA Knockouts. All three are current Irish senior champions.

Ward, who is also the European amateur light-heavyweight champion has yet to drop a round in the WSB, scoring three victories. But the Moate boxer expects to get nothing easy when the national elite championships begin on February 8. And it is expected that he will again meet Beijing silver medalist Kenneth Egan, who he dethroned in 2011 when only 17 and defeated again in 2012.

He said: “We have to wait and see (whether I meet Egan) but there will be other boxers that will be hungry and want to win a senior title. They are all going to be tough fights. I’m just looking forward to getting back to my 3 x 3 minute rounds, get my speed-work back because it’s a different game.

“If you lose the first couple of points you are in trouble so I just want to get back to my natural boxing with the head-guard. The amateur is a great sport, you can’t run it down. It’s a bit different but I’m so used to it now. I just need to get back into the rhythm and see how it goes.”

Nevin scored a unanimous verdict over Beijing silver medalist Daouda Sow from France. “I could have gone another five rounds,” he said.

“In my last fight before Christmas I was asking my trainer: ‘get me out after the second round, I can’t get up off the stool.’ It’s some difference now, we put in a lot of work and it’s paying off. It was great to get the win but I was straight back to the gym. We have a national title to win.”

Conlon delivered a non-stop attacking performance in his defeat to Selby but admitted: “It’s good preparation for the nationals in two weeks. I’m a bit gutted I lost but I’m not that gutted, it’s only WSB, it’s an extra wage, that’s all it is for me and it’s a nice look at the pro-game as well. It was my first five-rounder and if it was a pro-fight it would be a world title fight because it’s number one against three.

“I’m always comfortable (on the front-foot) I’m able to do anything I believe. But the Irish seniors are my main aim and that’s the best sparring you are going to get. I’m looking forward to them and it’s all just stepping stones now towards the Europeans.”

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