Tyson Fury recorded his 20th consecutive win in Belfast on Saturday night to edge a step closer to a shot at the WBC World heavyweight title.
The unbeaten 6ft 9inFury registered a unanimous (119-110,119-108,119-108) decision over Kevin “Kingpin” Johnson from a dull 12-round eliminator at the Odyssey Arena.
Fury, 24, is now in line for a tilt at WBC champion Vitali Klitschko, who beat USA-born Johnson on a unanimous decision in 2009.
However, if Klitschko, who is pursuing a political career in his native Ukraine, retires, then Fury will face either Chris Arreola or Bermane Stiverne, who meet in an eliminator next month.
The Manchester-born puncher, who fought for Ireland and England in the amateur ranks, was the busier boxer on Saturday night, but failed to deliver any fireworks against the durable American.
“You can fight 20 bums and knock the all out, but that doesn’t mean anything, said Fury, who was docked a point for hitting on the break in the 7th round.
“We knew he was a slippery, awkward guy. I am not going to throw hell for leather when there is no target to be hit. I promised my coach I wouldn’t go wild and let my heart get the better of me. I stuck to my game plan and I boxed. I was happy with my performance. I got a nice 12 rounds in and that will bring me on leaps and bounds and take me to another level.”
Meanwhile, John Joe Joyce is adamant he can make it to the Rio Olympics in 2016.
The Westmeath man was defeated by Adam Nolan in February’s National championships in the welterweight division, and the Bray star went on to earn a place in the Olympic qualifiers in Trabzon weeks later.
Both may be on course to meet in next February’s Nationals again but Joyce, who made his return to the ring after six weeks out with an elbow injury to defeat London-based Carl Ozimkowski on a unanimous decision at Rochestown Park Hotel on Saturday night, is already looking further into the future.
“Of course I’m hoping to go back again, I’m not too old. I’m only 25 now so we’ll see how it goes,” he said. “Having just missed out in Beijing in 2008, beaten on countback by the guy (Felix Diaz) who went on to win gold, I want another crack at it.
“Adam beat me by two points back in February and fair play to him, he went to London instead, but I can’t see why I can’t get there in 2016.”
Taking the national title from Nolan’s grasp, however, is the short-term aim: “Rio is the big goal but there’s no point focusing on it at the moment.
“I’ve to look at the nationals first now and then after that take it step by step and hopefully be on the plane. Then again four years is far away, I could be dead by then. My niece died during the summer with cancer, so it can’t be taken for granted but I really want to get there.”
Saturday’s well attending event featured members of the Rylane and An Garda Boxing clubs against an English selection.
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