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Friday 1 August 2014

Boxing: Egan calls time on career after Ward's masterclass

Bernard O'Neill

Published 23/02/2013|04:00

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Joe Ward and Ken Egan exchange punches during their fight in the National Stadium

AFTER 13 consecutive finals, Kenneth Egan called time on his illustrious career following a defeat to Joe Ward in their light-heavyweight final at Dublin's National Stadium.

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The Neilstown BC legend, one of the greatest international boxers of his generation, has won one Olympic silver medal, 10 Irish Elite titles and two European Senior Championships bronze medals over the last 13 years.

Egan also claimed three European Union gold medals in a career which has seen him win numerous gold, silver and bronze medals for Ireland at Multi-Nation level.

Egan won his first Elite title on February 23, 2001. He was appearing in his 13th straight Elite final last night.

However, he was beaten by Ward for the third consecutive year.

The result was never in doubt from the end of the first round when Moate fighter Ward surged into an 8-2 lead on Elite Championships Finals Night.

Egan couldn't find the answers to Ward's power and the younger man lengthened his lead to 21-3 at the end of the second before rounding off a 25-5 victory.

Strong

"I really wanted that 11th title and I really thought I could push Joe a bit further than in the last two years, but it just wasn't to be. He was just too strong for me," said Egan.

"He's young and he's is very clearly a really brilliant talent, and if he puts the work into this game that I did, well, he can go on to achieve an awful lot. He can do some incredible things.

"I've had an absolutely fantastic time. I've been in this sport for two dozen years and I have loved absolutely every minute of it – I thank everybody who helped me and supported me all along the way."

Also last night, London 2012 bronze medallist Michael Conlan claimed his third Elite title after his third successive win over Kildare's Chris Phelan.

The Belfast-born flyweight showed his class, speed and precision to take all three rounds – 5-2, 7-2, 8-5 – to run out a comfortable 20-9 winner.

Conlan reckoned that his feet played a crucial part in the win – and the AIBA World No 3 has his eye on the upcoming the European Championships in Minsk, Belarus in May and June.

"The plan was to keep moving against Chris, he's a good strong fighter, you need to be fit. My footwork was key, it prevailed in there," he said.

"I was getting a wee bit tired in the third but it was a good scrap.

"We're going to training camp on May 7 for the Europeans, getting top-class sparring again from the likes of Paddy Barnes.

"I feel I'm a level above everyone in Ireland at the moment domestically, but they're all improving every year. I've got to keep improving, can't let them catch me."

Meanwhile, it isn't often an Irish boxer has to beat a current European champion to retain his belt, but that's exactly what Ross Hickey did to win his third title in a row and his fourth overall at different weights since 2008.

The Grangecon BC southpaw edged the first 4-3 against Ray Moylette, but was rocked by a big right from his opponent in the second round of an explosive light-welter clash.

Moylette, ranked No 8 in the world, won the second 5-4 to leave it level at 8-8, but the classy Hickey, working superbly behind his jab, nailed the third 7-3 to earn a 15-11 decision.

Declan Geraghty, who obliged Gary McKenna to take a standing count off a right in the first, and rangy Belfast southpaw Sean McComb secured the vacant bantam and lightweight titles.

McComb, who boxes out of the Holy Trinity BC, had way too much fire power for the Dubliner and was 12-5 up and cruising going into the third.

Meantime, European U-23 champion Jason Quigley, who eliminated London 2012 Olympian Darren O'Neill in the last eight, beat former Elite champion Roy Sheahan to secure the middleweight crown.

Belfast heavyweight Tommy McCarthy KO'd Jimmy Sweeney in the third to secure his second successive title.

Belfast's Michaela Walsh, the defending women's featherweight champion, and Monaghan's Joanna Lambe battled all the way down to the final bell.

Both boxers were tied at 8-8 going into the fourth before Walsh found an extra gear to edge the final stanza 6-5 and secure her fourth Irish title.

Irish Independent

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