Saturday 20 January 2018

McComb banking on a medal to keep him in amateur ranks

European Games medallist Seán McComb. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
European Games medallist Seán McComb. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Ciarán Gallagher

Two-time national elite champion Seán McComb claims his international success will dictate whether he stays with the High Performance programme or joins Irish boxing's pro exodus.

Belfast native McComb will compete in his fifth National Elite Championship final on the bounce on Friday at the National Stadium, taking on Wayne Kelly from Ballynacargy, Co Westmeath in the 64kg light-welterweight decider.

A number of big names are absent from this year's championships following the decision of Michael Conlan, Paddy Barnes and Katie Taylor to turn professional, while David Oliver Joyce is reported to be the latest Rio Olympian to be weighing up a move.

With European and World Championships scheduled for this year, European Games medallist McComb admitted that his international progress in 2017 will likely impact on whether he decides to stay put or follow his former team-mates and friends Conlan and Barnes into the professional ranks.

"I was on the verge of turning over (to pro ranks) myself at the turn of the year," explained McComb. "I had talks with Zaur (Antia, Irish head coach) about a good year being ahead of me and he sort of talked me into staying.

"I do have a lot of experience - I've been to two World Championships, two Europeans, I've medalled at a Europeans and I've sparred with the best in the world at 64kg.

"I'm capable of beating anyone, so I think I'll have another good year, go and get a world medal and then that's me," added the 24-year-old before clarifying that he would be keen to stay within the High Performance unit in a bid to box at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games if he can claim a world medal.

This year's World Championships take place in Hamburg in August and September - with the preceding Europeans acting as a qualifier - and McComb claimed that government funding that stems from an international medal is key to his Olympic hopes.

"It just depends on the funding obviously," said the Holy Trinity clubman. "That (a medal) puts me on top funding and keeps me here another four years, 100 per cent.

"It's all about the money really… This is my career now, my peak and if I don't peak now I never will."

Having previously claimed his two elite titles at lightweight (60kg), McComb has moved up in weight for this year's national championships with a view to competing at the Tokyo Games.

With reigning light-welterweight champion Dean Walsh having also decided to move up (to welterweight), McComb will be fancied by many to become a two-weight champion this weekend, but he played down expectations.

"I'll have a very tough fight," said the Belfast man. "Wayne Kelly trained alongside me for a full two years in the High Performance, we know each other inside out, but I'm focused. For now, it's 50-50," added McComb.

Irish Independent

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