Cool Egan ready to step up gold bid against Samba boy Silva

KENNETH EGAN will climb into the ring next Tuesday just one fight away from an Olympic medal and, like it or not, he will be favourite to take the bronze medal — at least — away from Beijing, following a very impressive 10-2 victory over the Turkish light heavyweight, Bahram Muzaffer, for a place in the quarter finals.

The win, before the big group of Irish supporters at the Workers’ Gymnasium, puts him in line for a quarter-final clash with Washington Silva (Brazil) and, if he comes through that particular assignment intact, he will meet either Tony Jeffries (Great Britain) or Imre Szello, the new Hungarian on the block.

The form book would put Egan in as favourite for that particular contest as well, should it materialise. When Jeffries and Szello touched gloves at the EU championships in June, Jeffries won. and then Kenneth Egan beat the Englishman for the gold medal.

Yesterday’s was a top drawer performance from the Neilstown southpaw, who used an accurate back-hand right to head for an early lead, and then built on it.

After the Turk caught him with a left hook for the first point, Egan replied with two solid rights to the head to take a lead he would never relinquish.

A solid right hand to the head at the start of the second round followed by a quick left put him three points up and while he was catching his man with some big body punches, not one of them was recorded.

“There were at least five punches that were perfect hits but they just were not scoring them,” coach Billy Walsh said.

“They did not score but the body punches slowed him up,” Egan said. “Once I got his distance and that little bit of a lead, I was happy enough. The whole idea was just to build on the lead as I always do.”

Now the Turk had to come forward as the fight drifted away from him and Egan is at his best on the counter.

” I was making him miss and scoring at the same time as he was throwing his punches. I was very good counter-punching.

“I was watching the telly all week, studying the points system on my own, sitting in my apartment. It’s a lot of straight back-hand scores to the head, that’s what they score all the time. The body punches are very rare, unless it’s a good, clean straight back-hand.”

Egan won the third round 3-0 for a four point cushion and the third 4-1 for an unassailable lead.

The fourth round was all one-way traffic and when the Turk took a standing count from a big left hook to the head, it appeared as if the referee, James Beckles (Trinidad), might stop the contest but he saw it out.

“I could see he was tired in the fourth round,” Egan said. “He just did not want to know. I throw hooks to the body more to slow opponents down than to score points. I know myself that the back hand to the head scores so I was throwing them all night.”

Egan said that his proximity to a medal does not put any extra pressure on him and he will treat his next contest as just another fight.

“It’s brilliant for Ireland. Last year in Chicago, when all of us fell at the last hurdle, there were a lot of people talking bad about us, that the whole training camp was a disaster, the high performance was no good, there’s too much training being done and that was all a load of pony.

“It’s all about trial and error, and I’m happy to have part of the old system under the IABA and the new system which is now the high performance.

“It’s the only way forward — we’re getting the training camps, we’re getting the competition. Here it is now — I’m into the last eight, a load of lads in the last 16, so it’s definitely on the up, the high performance.”

He boxed Washington Silva at a tournament in the Philippines where they had a training camp ahead of the 2003 world championships in China.

“I also sparred him in the training camp but that’s a long time ago and from what I can remember, he’s not a bad lad, I’ll have to watch him on video, do a bit of analysis on him.”

High Performance Director Gary Keegan, said: “I was very impressed by Kenny (Egan) this evening.

“We know his next opponent quite well. I remember at the training camp in the Philippines, Kenny sparred him and then beat him in the tournament which was boxed at the end of the camp in a shopping centre.

“Today Silva looked a much improved boxer but that’s only to be expected. Like ourselves, he has been training for those Olympics for the past three years.”

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