Walsh tried to talk Nevin around

Ireland boxing coach wanted the world number one to remain an amateur

Irish boxing coach Billy Walsh tried to talk John Joe Nevin out of turning professional a number of times before the European champion and Olympic silver medallist finally left last week with a view to fighting in the professional ranks.

Walsh also said that bantamweight Nevin, one of the most talented boxers he has ever seen in an Irish singlet, is welcome to come back to the Irish team if he does not agree a deal.

Speaking before the Irish team departs for Almaty, Kazakhstan to compete in the World Boxing Championships next month, Walsh added that the tug of war between the amateur and professional codes had always been an issue with Nevin.

“This has been ongoing,” said Walsh. “The guy has achieved almost everything he wanted to achieve in amateur boxing, an amazing man, an amazing talent and probably one of the best I have seen don an Irish jersey.

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" I thought when he came to France with us at the end of August - we'd two contests out there - I thought he was going to continue. But in the meantime when we were heading to Castlebar (for a recent training camp), I heard he was going over to the Tyson Fury fight and sign up (professionally) there. That was the plan.

“He wasn’t at squad training in that camp (Mayo). For me the decision was already made. It was John Joe’s decision to go professional .”

Walsh, who will not bring a bantamweight to the World Championships because of late registrations, kept the door ajar as Nevin has become famous for his U-turns, twice threatening to turn professional before now

“I couldn’t speak highly enough about him. Any advice, any help …we will be there with open arms if he decides to change his mind, which he has on a few occasions,” added Walsh.

Johnny Watterson

Johnny Watterson

Johnny Watterson is a sports writer with The Irish Times