Ring king Egan makes history
Neilstown man pleased as punch with 10th title in row
Irish boxing history was made at the National Stadium last night when Kenneth Egan claimed his 10th successive Irish title.
The Neilstown man defeated Belfast's Tommy McCarthy 8-5 in a three, three-minute round bout in the light heavyweight division at the National Elite Finals.
There had been pressure on Ireland's Olympic silver medal winner going into this year's Championships. And McCarthy made things difficult for the champion in the first round, which ended with Egan just 1-0 ahead.
Egan, clearly focused on claiming his 10th title, opted to stand in his corner between the rounds and appeared anxious to get back to the fray.
Despite taunting by McCarthy, the second round ended with Egan 5-3 ahead. At the final bell, Egan fell to his knees with arms upraised.
Afterwards he said, "I had a bit of a bad year in 2009. We all know that. I slipped up but I'm back now. I'm winning. I had a hard Seniors last year. It was one of the hardest because I wasn't mentally or physically a hundred percent. This year I trained hard and I was in top shape. If I wasn't fit he could have beaten me. He's a top lad."
There were no scenes of jubilation following the win. Sitting in the corner of his dressing-room, Egan gave the impression of a man who'd just done a day's hard work. This had been a case of business as usual for the boxer who won his battle with the demands of the celebrity jungle following his triumphant return from Beijing.
"Tommy is coming on," he said, in admiration of his opponent. "He's picking his shots an awful lot better. It was tit-for-tat with the two of us at the start. He caught me with a good right hand in the second round but I shook it off. My fitness stood to me. Once I got the lead, I just built on it."
Egan's clinical approach is something that's been developed through years of experience at the highest levels. "Once I have a lead, I'm not going to take any risks that I don't need to," he said.
"I'm delighted to have the 10th title," added Kenneth. "It's my own record. It's better than Jim Sullivan's. He had 10, but not in a row. It's better than Mick Dowling's. He has eight in a row. I have eight in a row but I have two at middleweight. So I have the record.
"I hope that when I'm 50 or 60 I can walk into this dressing-room and shake someone's hand who has nine titles and is going for a tenth," said the man with the most impressive Irish amateur record ever. "I hope I'll be alive to see this record beaten."
Earlier in the evening, an impressive Katie Taylor beat Julia Tsyplakova (Ukraine) 10-2. Ever the perfectionist, the Bray woman insisted, "I wasn't too happy with my performance. I haven't boxed for a few months."
The happiest boxer of the evening was possibly John Joe Joyce who re-claimed the champion status he lost to a shock KO last year. The St Michael's Athy man outpointed Willie McLoughlin 9-12 in a tight encounter.
The finals continue at the National Stadium tonight.
48kg Novice: Jennifer Harte (Four Corners) beat Catherine O'Grady (Clann Naofa) RSC 3. 51kg: Elite Debbie Rodgers (Bray) beat Rebecca Meaney (Tolerton) RSC 2. 69kg: Elite Jessica Lyons (St Francis) lost to Kelly Harrington (West Finglas) 2-10. 75kg: Special Sinead Kavanagh (Drimnagh) beat Tetyana Ivashenko (Ukraine) 10-10, c/b 21-21, 5-0. 60kg: Special Katie Taylor (Bray) beat Julkia Tsyplakova (Ukraine) 10-2. 69kg: Elite Willie McLoughlin (Illies GG) lost to John Joe Joyce (St Michaels, Bray) 9-12. 75kg: Elite Darren O'Neill (Paulstown) beat Jason Quigley (Finn Valley) 6-1. 81kg: Elite Kenneth Egan (Neilstown) beat Tommy McCarthy (Oliver Plunkett) 8-5. 91kg: Elite Con Sheehan (Clonmel) beat Alan Reynolds (Ballinacarrow) 10-3. 48kg: Elite Paddy Barnes (Holy Family) beat Jimmy Moore (St Francis) 8-1. 57kg: Elite Tyrone McCullough (Illies GG) beat James Fryers (Immaculata) 3-1.