Elegant Nolan to give fight fans a treat

Even among all the Olympians and multiple champions one man stood out at this year’s Elite Boxing Championships in the National Stadium — Wexford’s Adam Nolan.

Tall for a welterweight, the Bray-based Garda personifies the science of boxing. Stylish and elegant yet with enough power to make sure an opponent can’t just walk through him. And courage. The courage of a matador as he invites more bullish opponents in close, then eludes their charge with a neat sidestep, picking up a point or two with his deadly jab.

Nolan is one of 11 Irish Elite boxers who will be in action in the Rochestown Park Hotel against a top French team this evening as part of preparations for the Europeans later this month. If you like your boxing, be there. A rare treat for Cork and Munster fight fans.

Nolan was voted boxer of the tournament at the Elite finals. He made it to the finals with relative ease, but then came up against Donegal whirlwind Willie McLaughlin. McLaughlin is made for the pro game and has a record of 7-1 in the semi-pro World Series of Boxing, including a win against the German who ended Darren O’Neill’s hopes in London, Stefan Haerteland, in a higher weight division.

Though the Elite final ended in a convincing points win for Nolan, a storming finish by McLaughlin had the champion holding on to avoid being knocked out.

“The game plan going out was to fight my own fight, keep McLaughlin at the end of my jab, keep moving and I’d have a great chance of winning,” he said.

“Looking at Willie the week before against John Joe [Joyce], John Joe stood with him and tried to fight him, but no welterweight in the world will beat McLaughlin by fighting him, staying close. We were working on it in the week leading up to it. Keep him on the end of my jab, not going back in a straight line but keep moving from side to side. I tried to implement that in the fight and the first two-and-a-half rounds went to plan, couldn’t have boxed better.”

But then?

“I took my eye off the ball, started listening out for the bell, was hoping to hear that bell, forgot what I was doing and he caught me with a few good shots. Luckily enough I weathered the storm, the work I’d done in the first two rounds — the second round in particular — was enough.

“It was great to win, but great also to put in a performance like that to beat him. Willie is a quality boxer, has shown that over the last few years and now in the WSB as well, has beaten a few big names in the WSB.

“The pro style seems to suit him. You look at that third round and he was just getting going, he’s more suited to the longer fights. Maybe that’s an avenue he’ll look at down the road. For me, I’m a computer boxer, a technical boxer, try not to get involved in a scrap or a fight because I wouldn’t be the most physical.”

Both will be on view this evening. One who falls into the Jason Quigley bracket of fighter is young light-heavyweight sensation Joe Ward, a three-time Elite champion while still a teenager. He can box too, of course, no one-hit wonder, just as Nolan can fight when needs be. But where Nolan is coming to the end of his career, Rio 2016 a final ambition, Ward is just starting out.

The day will come when this guy will fill arenas on his own. At €30 for adults, €15 for U16s, prices for this show have been kept deliberately low. However, this is your chance to see not just Adam and Joe, but all of the male London Olympic team and then some.

“It’s nice to come down to Cork and box with the rest of the lads again,” said Nolan. Hopefully we’ll get a great crowd.”

IRELAND squad: 49kg (Lightfly): Paddy Barnes (Holy Family) 52kg (Flyweight): Michael Conlan (St John Bosco) 56kg (Bantamweight): John Joe Nevin (Cavan) 60kg (Lightweight): Sean McComb (Holy Trinity) 64kg (Lightwelter): Rohan Date (St Paul’s) 69kg (Welterweight): Adam Nolan (Bray) 75kg (Middleweight): Jason Quigley (Finn Valley) 75kg (Middleweight): Darren O’Neill (Paulstown) 81kg (Light-heavy): Joe Ward (Moate) 91kg (Heavyweight): Tommy McCarthy (Oliver Plunkett) 91+kg (Superheavy): Con Sheehan (Clonmel).

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