Impressive Ward sets up clash with Egan

JOE WARD (Moate) had a word of warning for Kenny Egan on Saturday night after he comprehensively outpointed former world youths bronze medallist Davy Joe Joyce (St. Michael’s, Athy) in the semi-finals of the national senior championships to qualify for the finals.

“The way I see it, everyone is beatable. Hopefully, I will come out on the right side of it,” he said, speaking ahead of next Friday night’s clash with the Olympic silver medallist. “You have to give Kenny respect - he’s ten-times senior champion.”

Ward, at just 17 years of age, has won world youths and world junior titles at light middleweight and middleweight, and showed in Saturday night’s 8-2 victory over Joyce that he is blossoming into a fine light heavyweight. He is the possible, if not probably successor to Egan, who himself is going for an unprecedented 11th successive national senior title next weekend.

“Kenny is the big one, but that will take the rustiness out of me,” he said. “I am only 17 years of age but I have a lot of power and that’s what is bringing me through these fights. I have a lot of skill as well, so I just have to keep it going now. You can see yourself I am hardly breathing, so I am super fit.

“Kenny Egan has been the no. 1 guy for the past ten years so it will be great to go in there, have a good fight with him and see what happens. I can’t say I am going to beat him but I hope he doesn’t beat me. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens on the night.

“I have sparred Kenny in High Performance. I believe this will be a good fight, a very exciting fight. I believe there will not be a lot in it and that I can come out on the right side.

“I caught Davy Joe Joyce with a lot of big shots. I have a lot of power and I hit twice as hard as most of them out there. My shots come with speed as well, which is important. I hope I can do it again next week.”

Joyce’s only points came from a public warning given after Ward pushed him to the floor twice in the third round. Joyce was subsequently given a public warning for going in with his head.

Jason Quigley (Finn Valley) set up a repeat of last year’s middleweight final pairing when he beat Chris Blaney (Navan) 11-4 in an entertaining semi-final. The 19-year-old Stranorlar man — European youths champion in 2009 — lost 6-1 to three-time champion Darren O’Neill last year.

“I am stronger and more experienced this year — last year I was an unknown,” he said. “This year I know what it’s all about and I am prepared to do the business. I weighed 73 kgs then but this year I am up on top of my weight. You learn more from a defeat than from a win.”

Tyrone McCullagh (Holy Family, Belfast), last year’s featherweight champion and European bronze medallist, will meet defending champion John Joe Nevin in next Friday night’s bantamweight final after outpointing Shane Cox (Gorey) 8-2 on Saturday night.

“After the first round I started to get going and I found my range,” McCullagh said. “The last round was good for me. Boxing like that, behind the guard, is not exciting to watch and maybe some people lost last night who did not deserve to lose.

“I was happy with the last two rounds. I have a couple of fights under my belt now. I’m boxing John Joe (Nevin) in the final and he is half favourite but hopefully I’ll give him all he wants.”

There was a controversial ending to the lightweight semi-final when the St. Mary’s club pulled one of their boxers, Ciaran Bates, out after the first round. David Oliver Joyce (St. Michael’s, Athy) was leading 6-1 at the time and Bates’ corner disputed the scoring.

“We don’t mind being beaten but there’s no way we were 6-1 down,” St. Mary’s secretary, Mel Leonard, said. “We pulled our boxer out as a protest.”

Joyce will meet another St. Mary’s boxer, Michael McDonagh, in next Friday night’s final. He beat Joyce’s clubmate and defending champion Eric Donovan on a countback on Friday, and Joyce said he would like a chance to avenge the result.

“They are saying it was a wrong decision and it should have been a bit closer, but it’s up to the judges,” Joyce, who is chasing a fifth national senior title, insisted.

“He was throwing a lot of shots, but the judges probably saw my clean shots going in. Near the end of the round, I could feel he was getting tired. I was landing nice body shots and the body shots scored. I wasn’t wasting too many shots either. I meet his clubmate on Friday night and hopefully I can do the business again.”

Philip Sutcliffe (Crumlin), the 2009 champion, took a major step towards reclaiming his light welterweight title with his second stoppage of the championships — this time against Anthony Upton (Holy Family), who was on the floor twice in the first round, before the referee stopped the contest. He now meets Karl Brabazon (St. Saviours OBA), who beat defending champion John Joe Joyce (St. Michael’s, Athy) on Friday night.

Another favourite to bite the dust in the very first of Saturday night’s semi-finals was Declan Geraghty (Corinthians), who was outpointed 8-4 by 18-year-old Kildare debutante Chris Phelan, in what was a lively contest.

Geraghty had to withdraw from the defence of his title last year with a hand injury, while defending champion Gary Molloy (Moate) was beaten by Michael Conlon (St. John Bosco) in another shock result on Friday night.

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