Boxing event a big hit in City of Culture celebrations
Anthony O'Rawe is aiming for his own little piece of history at the Ulster Elite Boxing Championships — being staged outside Belfast for the first time — at the Pilots Row Centre in Derry, part of the City of Culture celebrations.
The Ballymena youngster last night became the first fighter from the Braid Club, which was only formed in 2004, to reach an Ulster Elite final and he’s relishing the chance to claim the prestigious title tomorrow night.
“I'm over the moon to have reached the final, it was a very close fight and to be honest I wanted to win by a bigger margin, but a win’s a win,” stated O'Rawe.
“I have never fought Sean (Higginson) before, but I'll just do what I do and try to bring what I have been doing in training into the final.
“I put in a lot of hard training for these championships, so hopefully come Friday night it will have all paid off for me.”
In last night’s semi-final against JD Meli, O'Rawe — who had a large support from Ballymena cheering him on — was the more aggressive boxer and in the opening two rounds piled on all the pressure.
The Immaculata man really couldn't get anything going as O'Rawe took the centre of the ring from the first bell, however the judges only scored the contest 11-10 in favour of the Ballymena boxer.
O'Rawe will face Sean Higginson in tomorrow’s bantamweight final after Old School club’s Gary McKenna just couldn't keep up with the St John Bosco man’s work-rate.
However Higginson did have to take a standing eight count in the third and final round, but he had already done enough to book his place in tomorrow’s final.
Fight fans were treated to another night of outstanding boxing last night.
In the first bout of the evening Belfast man Ruairi Dalton faced Holy Trinity stable-mate Michael Hawkins at flyweight.
It was Dalton who in truth was just too good for his mate and had a comfortable 19-2 success as he breezed into tomorrow evening's final.
For Dalton, who admitted he was disappointed that he had to beat a good friend to reach the final, is hoping all his hard work pays off.
“I did a lot of strength and conditioning work and I have had to discipline myself. I have stuck to everything, stuck well to my diet and everything has gone well,” he said.
“My training and preparation for the finals have been good, I'm happy, my coaches are happy and everyone is happy,” insisted Dalton.
There was disappointment for local fighter Kevin McIntyre who was unable to reach tomorrow’s finals night, suffering a heavy 30-9 defeat to Sean Duffy.
McIntyre, who had lost to the Holy Trinity man previously, again came up short — in fact he took two standing eight counts, in the second and third rounds, as Duffy piled on the punches.
Duffy will certainly find things a lot tougher tomorrow night when he faces Michael Glendenning in the light welterweight final, after the Errigal man produced an action-packed victory over Fergal McCrory.
Conor Coyle was in sparkling form as he eased past battling Stephen Flynn and booked his place in the middleweight showdown.
The Derry man showed his intent from the off when in the first round a flurry of punches resulted in Flynn taking two standing eight counts in the opening three minutes.
The Cavan man's corner in the end retired their fighter in the second round.
In the light heavyweight division, Stephen O'Reilly from the Twin Towns Club was just too good for Holy Trinity boxer Michael Cummings.
O'Reilly showed his class and breezed into the final with a convincing 25-5 victory.
In the decider O'Reilly will face Ryan Donnelly, who had a commanding 18-5 success against Sean Crudden.