Ward’s masterclass stuns Egan

JOE WARD (Moate) created one of the biggest upsets in the history of Irish amateur boxing when he beat Olympic silver medallist, Kenny Egan, 11-6 in a thrilling light heavyweight final at the last night’s Elite national senior championships at the National Stadium.

The defeat may not have actually dashed Egan’s hopes of making it to London 2012 next year but it certainly dented them and it was a victory that was totally deserved by the 17 year old Westmeath man who has already won world youth and junior titles.

He had Egan, who was bidding for an unprecedented 11th consecutive title, on the floor twice and Egan got two public warnings from referee Sadie Duffy for holding his head down.

Ward caught early with a left hook to the head followed by a left and while Egan got through with a big right hand it was evident from the outset that the champion was in for a difficult night.

Ward won the first round 2-1 but Egan was 4-2 up in the second when he got his first public warning to tie the fight at 4-4. The second warning put Ward in the driving seat and it went from bad to worse for Egan when Ward put him on one knee from a combination but it was not deemed a knock down.

Proceedings were stopped momentarily when Ward sustained a cut under his right eye but he was quickly back in action and had Egan down from a big right hand.

“I was one point up at the end of the first round and he was beating me in the second round 4-2 but I knew I’d never give up — I’d fight to the bell and that’s what I did,” Ward said.

“He deserved the public warning. He was keeping his head way down all the time. He would not come up to fight. He kept dropping his head. He deserved the two public warnings but, in the end, they did not make any difference because I would have won by a point anyway.

“The first knock-down was 100 per cent. I caught him with a left-right combination. Every shot I hit him I really hurt him. I could see he was all over the place. Then I caught him with a big right hand and a left hook and he went down again. I threw some great shots and they really deserved a point but they did not score them.

“I was really confident before the fight. I knew I would do it. I would not have been in there if I did not think I was going to win it.

“People were saying I am just 17 years old and I might not be mature enough but trust me I am a mature 17 year old and I’m one hell of a tough man as well.

“I knew my power would make a difference tonight. I hit him an early shot and I knew he started to wobble. I hit him a left hook on the ropes and I did not get the point. He got through with a sloppy shot and he got the point.”

Egan was obviously bitterly disappointed as he became another casualty in what has been a desperate championships for champions.

“What am I going to do about it ... cry?” he said. “Fair play to Joe Ward — I was beaten by a better opponent on the night. He did things right and I didn’t, at least not all the things I wanted to do.

“Who knows what happens now, but I’m certainly not out of the Olympic picture yet.

“Joe goes to the World Championships in Baku in Azerbaijan in September and if he qualifies for London next year then that’s it for me at light-heavyweight — assuming Ward, who’s obviously a growing lad, is still light-heavyweight by that stage.

“Alternatively, if he does qualify at light-heavyweight, then I always have the option of a different weight, heavyweight being the obvious one,” said Egan, who’d run up a perfect 22-0 record in the championships and whose last loss to a domestic opponent was to Paddy Dormer from Paulstown in Kilkenny in the Junior Championships in May 1999.

Olympic bronze medallist Paddy Barnes (Holy Family GG) took the first step on another Olympic adventure with a comprehensive 9-1 victory over the reigning national under-21 and intermediate champion, Evan Metacafe (Crumlin), in an interesting if not exciting light flyweight final.

“Maybe I just made it look easy but it was as easy as I would have expected,” he said. I am happy with the performance. It was my fifth title.

“As I said to his coach he is getting sparring off the second best bantamweight in Ireland (Willie Casey) but I get to spar the best, Carl Frampton.

“London 2012 is just another tournament along the way — that’s how I am looking at it now. Obviously I want to qualify for the Olympics at the world championships but I want to go to the world championships to win the world title. I want to be world champion.”

And European silver medallist, Darren O’Neill (Paulstown) retained his middleweight title with a second successive victory over European junior champion, Jason Quigley, this time on the score of 7-4.

Con Sheehan (Clonmel) emulated another great Tipperary boxer, Peter Crotty, when he outpointed Patrick Corcoran (Olympic, Galway) 9-3 in a tough heavyweight final to win his fourth successive national senior title.

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