Classy Sheehan seeking third heavyweight title

CONNIE SHEEHAN will face another landmark on the road to London 2012 when he takes on the bustling Crumlin clubman David Maguire in the first of the heavyweight semi-finals at the National Stadium tonight.

At just 20 years of age the Clonmel man is on course for his third successive national senior title, and that is exceptional in a division where boxers don’t normally mature until they are in their mid 20’s at least.

Last year Sheehan beat six times champion, Alan Reynolds to retain the title he won against Tommy Sheahan (St. Michael’s, Athy) a year earlier.

After the Reynolds fight he produced one of the most impressive performances of his career to beat Paul Koon 14-4 when Ireland hosted the USA at the National Stadium.

From there he went to the World Championships in Milan where he under-performed against Osmai Duarte Acosta from Cuba, who went on to win the silver medal.

Last weekend Sheehan beat John Sweeney (Dungloe), a quarter-finalist at the World Championships in Chicago in 2007, 21-5, to earn his place in tonight’s semi-final.

His opponent tonight, David Maguire (Crumlin), produced a robust performance to edge out Willie Byrne (Knocknagoshel) 10-8 in his quarter final.

“Connie is in great form – I think we all saw that last weekend,” said his coach, Martin Fennessy. “He has quite a task ahead of him, though, because Maguire is very strong and very physical.

“Having said that I would expect Connie will have the know-how and boxing skills to counteract whatever his opponent will bring into the ring.

“Connie is still only 20 but he has really developed physically in the past year. He won very easily against John Sweeney and John is a very experienced boxer.

“Connie is still disappointed over Milan last year where he did not do himself justice against the Cuban. He wants to vindicate himself at the European championships in Moscow next June.

“Long term the Olympics in London are his big focus but if he does not qualify I would not be too worried because he would be only 22 and maybe 2016 would be a more realistic target.

“I would see him as a great prospect. He is 6’5” and I would have expected him to be a super heavyweight by now but he is making 91 kgs dead on.”

Kenneth Egan is assured of star billing at the National Stadium tonight when the Olympic silver medallist will be the raging hot favourite against Denis Hogan in the light heavyweight semi-final.

Hogan, however, is quietly confident that he can put forward a big challenge to the Neilstown southpaw although known form is against him. When they met in the semi-finals last year Egan overwhelmed the young Wicklow man 16-3 and when they subsequently touched gloves in the box-off for world championship selection Egan confirmed his superiority with a 12-1 victory.

“I’ve one year’s senior experience under my belt and I will be confident going into the semi final,” said Hogan, a carpenter by trade. “Hopefully I can cause an upset.

Hogan was pushed all the way in his quarter-final bout with Darren Cruise while Egan cruised through his contest with Gisha Gezim and he was leading 18-4 when the referee stopped it with 30 seconds remaining after Albanian-born Gezim had taken his third standing count.

If there is going to be a serious threat to Egan’s 10-in-a-row aspirations it will come from Belfast’s Thomas McCarthy, who won a bronze medal at the World Youth Championships in Mexico two years ago.

McCarthy, making his senior debut, felt he under-performed when he lost 9-5 to Egan in last year’s final. Last weekend the Oliver Plunkett clubman was very impressive against Richard Beale (St. Michael’s) and was leading 7-0 when the bout was stopped in the second round. Tomorrow night he meets Michael Ward (St. Ailbhes) for a place in next weekend’s finals.

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