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McComb is hoping to toast more Irish glory

By David Kelly

Sean McComb may be looking forward to becoming an Irish champion again but he has an even greater ambition: "I'm really looking forward to a pint!"

Belfast man McComb was left distraught last year when he lost out on the lightweight title, losing it to Athy's David Oliver Joyce who would go on to represent Ireland at the Olympics in Rio.

McComb, who trains at the Holy Trinity club, hit such a low that he considered hanging up his amateur vest and turning professional but after a chat with coach Mickey Hawkins and Irish boss Zaur Antia, he decided to go full throttle at making 2017 a year to remember.

"I've been flat out for the past 11 weeks, training twice a day and doing everything I can to win the Irish title and then focus on the European Championships and the World Championships. I want to make a big international mark this year," said McComb, who has also given up his job with Belfast Bus Tours.

"Although I didn't get going to the Olympics, I was in the training camp and got to spar some of the best boxers in the world so I know that I belong at that level. I managed to get sparring an Olympic silver medallist and comfortably held my own.

"I managed to get funding from SportNI and also the Irish Sports Council so that allowed me to quit my job and just focus on my boxing and I've also got the backing of a new company Eat Clean NI who are organising my meals at no cost. Mentally and physically I've been really pushing myself so I'm looking forward to a pint after the final."

McComb faces Wayne Kelly in the light-welterweight decider tonight as he along with four other Ulstermen, Brendan Irvine, Kurt Walker, Brett McGinty and Blaine Dobbins, also bid to land Irish titles.

McComb warmed up for this year's Championships by competing for a team in Hamburg in the Bundesliga and having moved up from lightweight it was just what he needed.

"I had three contests in Germany and one of those was against the German No.2. That was my first fight at light-welterweight after moving up from lightweight and I got the win so that was a confidence boost because I hadn't boxed competitively for 12 months," he said.

"I did have a Test match with Wayne Kelly in between so we got to know each other a bit better and that might make the final a bit cagey but I think you'll see a good contest between two skilful boxers. I think I have the edge.

"It was hard losing the lightweight title last year but it was very close, a split decision for Joyce. If they had scored the knockdown, which they should have done, it would have been a different result.

"Winning the Irish title is crucial because it means you are straight into the team for the major Championships so I can't afford any slip-ups.

"Wayne's a tricky boxer, he's a good operator so it won't be easy that's for sure."

Confident of landing his first title at light-welter, McComb is also expecting Ulster to at least bring home three other titles.

Light-flyweight Dobbins from the St Joseph's club in Derry meets Darryl Moran of Illies GG, while Walker of Canal bids for a hat-trick of bantamweight titles against Stephen McKenna, Irvine of St Paul's is hot favourite at flyweight against Thomas McCarthy and welterweight McGinty of Derry's Oakleaf club meets Dean Walsh.

McComb said: "I think Dobbins will win the light-fly title, Brendan and Kurt should win their finals but it's going to be very tough for Brett to beat Dean Walsh at welterweight just because of his edge in experience, but Brett is having a great year."

Belfast Telegraph

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