Walsh happy with Ireland’s six out of nine at boxing World Championships
Paddy Barnes, Michael Conlan, Jason Quigley and Joe Ward among those to advance
Flyweight Paddy Barnes won through in Kazakhstan. Photograph: Inpho
Almaty cut a third Irish boxer loose from the draw but sent some hard men of the amateurs on to a tougher road this week in Kazakhstan.
Flyweight Paddy Barnes and bantam Michael Conlan, pioneering their way through heavier weight divisions for the first time at this level, middleweight Jason Quigley still looking like a lad on First Communion day but knocking over Olympic medal winners and Joe Ward at light-heavyweight, 18 months of mishaps at his feet and still just 19-years-old, are all through to the last 16 of the draw.
Lightweight Sean McComb, who won his second bout yesterday and heavyweight Tommy McCarthy join the already anointed quartet putting the Irish number at six through with two more fights in front of them before they can start counting this trip to Kazakhstan a medal success.
“Satisfied,” said Irish coach Billy Walsh. “We’d nine guys here and we’ll take six through to the business end. We’re looking now to get further down the line towards medals.”
Never unaware of what’s lurking around the corner in the grandly named Baluan Sholak Palace of Culture and Sports, Walsh rightly remains cautious. But Ward’s unanimous win over Poland’s Mateusz Tryc yesterday allowed some moments of relaxation.
Ward was almost imperious in his dominance of Tryc, the boxer who he injured his knee against in the Summer European Championships and his hand in a subsequent fight in France. In addition to the win that was led by his jab and a booming left hand, a composed Ward denied the Pole an injury hat-trick and emerged intact.
“It’s definitely great to get past him. He was like a blight on me,” said the 19-year-old. “I’m in one piece. I needed badly to get that fight out of the way.”
For European champion Jason Quigley the next six days will be an introduction to the sharp end of world of boxing. His opponent at the weekend, India’s Vijender Singh, brought a Beijing bronze and Asian Games gold to Kazakhstan. He was also six feet tall and cut a dashing, haughty figure to the genial mien of the Donegal 22-year-old. As Quigley lined up to do interviews after his bout the Indian team filed out behind him.
“Lucky, lucky, lucky,” murmured one of the corner men. Quigley turned around and smiled. “Aye and whatever you’re having yourself,” he replied, bullet proofed by his 30-26, 30-26, 28-28 win.
While the bout was narrow, it was profoundly telling about Quigley’s mental aptitude and capacity for never blinking. There’s little in him that houses thoughts of defeat.
A clash after a just a minute forced Quigley to the doctor as blood smeared his hair. Singh then put him on the canvas with a low blow in the third round for which he was cautioned.
But the fittest boxer on the Irish team won narrowly and is a dynamo to Michael Conlan’s mix of breathless style and street wise scrapper. Conlan rolled punches like a professional, fought like an urchin when he needed and outboxed Hungary’s Kriszthan Nagy for a unanimous decision,
The Olympic bronze medallist, just weeks ago, switched from flyweight (52 kg) to the 56kg bantamweight class and the fit is natural. Bigger since London 2012 the move into John Joe Nevin’s vacated division holds little fear.
“I’m more comfortable now,” he said of the move to 56kg. “Winning the fight wouldn’t usually be the first thing on my mind. Getting out of the ring I was thinking ‘I’ve got to make weight after this.’ It’s not good having that on your mind all the time.”
Conlan would fight at a weight over 52kg but would then have to make the 52 limit afterwards for a weigh-in the following morning. The savage routine of weigh-in, fight, lose weight, weigh-in again is over.
McComb’s was a unanimous win over Central Africa Republic’s Gildas Bangana, while Tipperary heavyweight Con Sheehan lost to Cuba’s Yohanndi Ortega on a unanimous decision.