Saturday 21 April 2018

Old order toppled as Ward ends Egan reign in thriller

Bernard O'Neill

WORLD Youth champion Joe Ward sensationally ended Ken Egan's decade-long domination of Irish amateur boxing with a thrilling Elite Championships light-heavyweight final victory last night.

Ward, from the Moate club in Westmeath, dropped the Olympic silver-medalist with a superb left hook in the third round and followed up with an equally impressive right en route to an 11-6 win at the National Stadium in Dublin.

Egan didn't do himself any favours, conceding four points after receiving public warnings from referee Sadie Duffy for dropping his head and shoulder in the second and third rounds.

Egan frantically stalked his man down in the third, but it was 17-year-old Ward, who is 12 years Egan's junior, who came up trumps from most of the exchanges to claim a historic victory.

Last night's loss could end Egan's hopes of qualifying for the London Olympics and of going one step further than his silver medal win in Beijing 2008.

In contrast, Ward now has one foot on the plane for the World Championships and Olympic qualifiers in Baku, Azerbaijan, next September.

If the new champion reaches the quarter-finals in Baku, he will book his ticket for London and the door on the 2012 Olympic Games will be slammed shut on Egan.

Meanwhile, World and European champion Katie Taylor received a walkover in the lightweight class.

Overturn

European and Commonwealth champion and 2008 Olympic bronze medalist Paddy Barnes had to overturn a 1-0 deficit against Crumlin's Evan Metcalfe in the opening round before bagging his fifth Elite title on the trot.

Metcalfe found the target with a close-range right inside the opening minute, but Barnes hit back four times without reply to take the opening stanza 4-1.

Metcalfe took a standing count off a left hook as Barnes extended that advantage to 6-1 in the second, and the Holy Family Club man added another three points in the third to seal a 9-1 decision.

Barnes insists he wants to forget about Olympic qualification for now to concentrate on winning gold at the World Championships in Baku.

However, the Ulsterman neglected to mention that if he does win gold in Azerbaijan, he will qualify for the Olympics, as a top-10 finish in Baku will suffice to secure a spot.

"London 2012 is just another tournament along the way as far as I'm concerned. Obviously I want to go for the Olympics at the World Championships but I want to go to the World Championships to win the world title," said Barnes.

"I want to be world champion. I have matured a lot since the last World Championships in Chicago. Last year was my best ever, winning the European title and then the Commonwealth games."

Meanwhile, Belfast's Michael Conlon staged a remarkable comeback to beat Chris Phelan 11-7 of the Ryston BC in Kildare in an excellent flyweight contest.

Precision

Phelan claimed the first round 4-1 courtesy of some precision finishing, particularly off three left hooks which caught Conlon on the counter.

The Ryston prospect, the current Intermediate and U-21 champion, extended that lead to 5-1 early in the second with another left to the head.

But Conlon, of the John Bosco club, came storming back to find the target with six rights in succession to command a 7-5 advantage going into the third. The Belfast man, who eliminated Olympic Youth champion and World Youth silver-medalist Ryan Burnett in the quarter-finals, also took the final frame to win his first Irish Elite crown.

In the welterweight final, Dublin's Karl Brabazon fought the law and the law won. Brabazon, the 2005 Elite champion, was in against against Adam Nolan, a Garda who boxes out of the Bray BC. Nolan produced a fantastic first round to lead 3-0 and then stretched that lead to 9-1 in the second before running out a 13-4 winner.

In the only Women's Elite final of the night, Sinead Kavanagh beat Patricia Roddy 13-4 to bag the middleweight crown for the Drimnagh BC in Dublin.

Kilkenny middleweight Darren O'Neill won his third successive title with a 7-4 win over Donegal's Jason Quigley in a repeat of the 2010 final which O'Neill won 6-1. And Tipperary heavyweight Con Sheehan came from behind to beat Galway's Patrick Corcoran 9-3 and land his fourth 91kg title in a row.

Irish Independent

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