Boxing: Egan anger after Ward 'gets ahead of himself'
KENNY Egan has launched a withering attack on Joe Ward, the 17-year-old who ended his reign as Irish champion.
The Olympic silver medallist's run of 10 successive national light-heavyweight titles came to a shuddering halt in February when the World Youth champion from Moate downed him twice in an epic battle.
The Neilstown man yesterday revealed that he could have retired after that defeat if it wasn't for his decision to stop drinking.
Both fighters are now working in the Irish Boxing Association's High Performance Unit and Egan has accused Ward of trying to avoid him when sparring.
And he warned the younger man not to get too carried away with his national title.
"He does have a qualm about sparring all the time, he thinks I'll learn too much off him," Egan said.
"He is good, but he's not that good. He can get a bit ahead of himself, thinking I can learn things off him.
"He's talented, he's very, very strong and the fact that he's 17 it's hard to believe that he is so strong.
"I just hope he doesn't build himself up too much, because it's going to be a hard oul' fall if he does get beaten.
"I've been No 1 for years. I would always be training with the No 2. But I wouldn't diss him or anything, I'd spar him all the time and I'd try and bring him on.
"In sport it comes and goes. You have winners, you have losers. I got beaten on the night, I've been performing there for the last decade.
"My record in national seniors was 22 and 0, so it is okay to have a bad day at the office. I had one bad day at the office in 10 years, you know what I mean? So it is not too bad."
The Olympic star was speaking at the Volunteers in Sport Awards, where he paid tribute to his former underage coach Gerry Fleming.
Since the glory of Beijing, Egan has suffered plenty of demons. But with the help of his family he has cleaned up his act, stopped drinking and is feeling fit and strong.
In July or August -- he's still waiting on a confirmed date -- he'll be afforded an opportunity to box off for the World Championships and, in turn, get a shot at the London Olympics.
And while he says watching Ward compete at the European Championships will be "hard to accept", he is ready and waiting for his opportunity.
"I have been all over the world for different world championships and Europeans, but it is different now: I have to sit back and wait, it is a waiting game," he said. "But I am not going to sit around and do nothing, I am going to stay fit and stay focused and we'll see what happens in the box-off.
"I found out myself it was more important to get off the drink than go on and win another 10 senior titles. It's a sport -- you win fights, you lose fights -- it's about my health at the end of the day.
"I'm in great shape, I'm flying. Mentally is the most important, mentally I am 100pc.
"I'm doing everything right -- diet, my training is perfect, I'm getting regular competition, I've had 14 fights this year and I have only lost two.
"One was to Joe and the other was an international in Germany, which was a hairy decision. The stats there are great."