Monday 19 March 2018

'Apprehensive' Nolan closes in on sixth national title

Adam Nolan advances on Michael Bustard in his National Championships welterweight semi-final victory
Adam Nolan advances on Michael Bustard in his National Championships welterweight semi-final victory

Bernard O'Neill

London 2012 Olympians Adam Nolan and Darren O'Neill advanced in style from the semi-finals of the National Elite Championships at the National Stadium last night.

Defending welterweight champion Nolan beat Ulster's Michael Bustard, who took a count in the third round, to move to within one win of a fifth title.

"It's always good the get the first one out of the way," said Bray BC southpaw Nolan, who received a bye into the last-four.

"I have another big test again next weekend.

"You're always apprehensive going into your first fight, nothing comes handy at this level. Look at all the split decisions tonight!"

O'Neill, who is aiming for his sixth belt at two different weights, TKO'd Stephen McMonagle, who took two counts, in the first round of their heavyweight content.

Meanwhile, David Oliver Joyce, a three-time EU champion, progressed without having to dodge a punch after his brother Hughie -a St Michael's Athy team-mate - didn't weigh in yesterday morning because of a chest infection.

David Oliver Joyce,the only AIBA Pro Boxing fighter at the Championships, will meet either George Bates or defending lightweight champion Sean McComb in next Friday's 60kg final.

Bantam and light-welter belt holders Kurt Walker and Dean Walsh also had their hands raised in victory at the South Circular Road venue, beating Cork's Colin O'Donovan and Galway's James Cleary respectively.

Cleary, however, asked plenty of questions of the European Elite bronze medallist in a pulsating 64kg showdown, with Walsh earning the fourth straight split decision of the session.

Michael O'Reilly, the highest ranked AIBA world-ranked boxer at No 3 in action at the Elites, opens his 75kg title defence tonight.

The Portlaoise BC middleweight claimed European Games gold and World Elite bronze last year, but lost out controversially to Egypt's Hosam Abdin in a box-off for next year's Olympic Games.

He faces St Michael's Athy BC prospect John Joyce, a former European Schoolboy, Junior and Youth medallist.

Joyce shaded Fearghus Quinn on a split decision on his Elite debut yesterday evening.

"I'm going for my third senior title," said the 22-year-old O'Reilly. "It's all about getting over the final furlong now. That's my focus."

Tonight's last-four duels will pave the way for next Friday's finals.

Dean Gardiner received a walkover into the super-heavy decider after Damien Sullivan withdrew injured from their 91kg+ clash.

Reagan Buckley and TJ Waite, on an emotional evening following a sad death in his family, and Chris Blaney also posted wins last night.

The final session of semi-finals will be completed tonight. Today's weigh-ins will be held between 8am and 9am and 12pm and 1pm. Boxing begins at 7.30.

Irish Independent

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