Wednesday 13 December 2017

Underdog McCarthy adamant Irvine is 'not unbeatable'

Confident Thomas McCarthy. Photo: Cody Glenn/Sportsfile
Confident Thomas McCarthy. Photo: Cody Glenn/Sportsfile

Bernard O'Neill

Some pundits are giving Thomas McCarthy roughly the same odds against Rio Olympian Brendan Irvine in tonight's Elite Championships flyweight final as Biblical fight writers at ringside in the Valley of Elah gave David against the previously undefeated Goliath.

But McCarthy is relishing his underdog status at the National Stadium and believes he can become the first Cork male boxer since Éanna Falvey - a doctor to the Irish rugby team who beat Cathal McMonagle in the 2002 super-heavy final - to top a podium at the flagship tournament of Irish boxing.

The 18-year-old Leesider, an ex Cork Boxer of the Year, beat Adam Courtney in last weekend's semi-finals and is clearly fired up for what he describes as the fight of his life.

"I'm the underdog - no doubt about it," said the Mayfield BC teen. "I've been training flat out for five months for this and I feel I can upset the odds.

"Brendan is obviously a top-class boxer, but he's not unbeatable. No boxer is unbeatable."

London 2012 Olympian Darren O'Neill will be bidding for his seventh Elite crown when he takes on Athlone's Ken Okungbowa in a repeat of the 2015 final, which he won on a split decision.

"It was announced a split, but it was actually a unanimous decision to me," insisted the Kilkenny southpaw who is competing in these championships for the 13th time.

"I don't see him trying to outbox me at all because I'll have too much skills and experience. I'm looking forward to getting it out of the way and getting on with the rest of the season."

Rio Olympian Joe Ward will be a hot favourite to see off Anthony Browne in the light-heavyweight class.

World Elite finalist Kellie Harrington meets Shauna O'Keefe in the women's lightweight final.

Harrington has dropped down from light-welter to light to challenge for the title vacated by Katie Taylor, who beat O'Keeffe in the 2015 final at the Stadium.

Harrington dismissed the fact that O'Keeffe traded leather with Taylor, arguably the greatest pound-for-pound female fighter of all time.

"I don't really care about Shauna boxing Katie. That means nothing to me. All she is is another boxer, another person with two hands," said the Dubliner, who is aiming for her seventh title.

"If she had a third arm then I'd start to worry! All that stuff about the boxers my opponents met in the past doesn't faze me at all. I focus on me and what I am bringing to the fight."

Tonight's action gets under way at 7.30.

Irish Independent

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