Friday 23 June 2017

Walsh heeds uncle Billy's advice as he eyes Welter for Tokyo Olympics

Dean Walsh: 'I'm delighted with the win. It was only my second fight back since June because of a hand injury and I'll be better for next Friday night' Photo: SPORTSFILE
Dean Walsh: 'I'm delighted with the win. It was only my second fight back since June because of a hand injury and I'll be better for next Friday night' Photo: SPORTSFILE

Bernard O'Neill

Dean Walsh already has one eye on the Tokyo Olympic Games, after uncle and former Ireland head coach Billy advised him to move up in weight for the 2017 National Elite Championships.

Wexford native Walsh opened his competitive welterweight (69kg) campaign with a unanimous points decision over Dungloe's Mark McCole.

The 22-year-old previously won three National Elite titles in a row at light-welter (64kg), although he failed to make Rio after facing disciplinary action for breaking team rules at a European Olympic qualifier in Turkey last April.

With Rio Olympian Steven Donnelly having decided not to enter this year's championships due to illness and reigning welterweight champion Adam Nolan deciding to call it a day, Walsh will be considered by many to be the favourite to claim the 69kg crown.

Like the rest of the Elite hopefuls, Walsh has one eye on June's European Championships in the Ukraine - the sole qualifier for August's World Championships in Germany.

"I'm delighted with the win. It was only my second fight back since June because of a hand injury and I'll be better for next Friday night," said Walsh, who will meet Tiernan Bradley in the semi-finals.

Rio Olympians Joe Ward and Brendan Irvine received byes into the last-four, while Kellie Harrington received a bye into the women's lightweight final, where she'll meet either Shauna O'Keeffe or Amy Broadhurst for the title vacated by Katie Taylor.

Stoppage

Meanwhile, Chris Eubank Jnr plans to fight again as soon as April after winning the lightly-regarded IBO title via a 10th-round stoppage of Australia's Renold Quinlan in his first fight at super-middleweight.

Saturday's fight at London's Olympia was the first on the new ITV Box Office platform, giving the 27-year-old the potential to build a momentum that never existed amid uncomfortable promotional relationships with Matchroom and Frank Warren, as well as the financial draw required to make top-notch match-ups.

"We want to be back out as early as April," said his father Chris Snr (50). "If we can make this fight with James DeGale, that we shall do. By April we will be ready to go again."

A rematch with Billy Joe Saunders, who narrowly outpointed him in 2014, is another possibility for Eubank Jnr, who said: "I know Saunders is starving as well - no fans, fighting in leisure centres in front of 300 people. He needs to fight and we all want that fight."

Irish Independent

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