Boxing: McKeown’s pride in rise of star man Nevin
John Joe Nevin’s amateur career has already hit new heights and today he bids to march into the bantamweight final at the World Championships in Milan.
Nevin’s Cavan coach Brian McKeown is naturally delighted with his protege’s displays and now hopes he can deliver another classy display to overcome Russian Eduard Abzalimov.
McKeown said: “When he was a lot younger and lighter I came under a lot of pressure to box him against bigger and older lads just to get him fights for the sake of getting them, but we decided in the gym that we were going to work on his skills, concentrate on developing them.
“I always promised him that he would get there in the end and that he could be the best of the lot of them, but that it was important that when he got there, he stayed there.
“He is an exceptional talent. He has a terrific perception of distance and reflexes, and with a little move of his head he can slip a punch with the best of them — and, make no mistake about it, he can punch. A lot of people might think he's just a slippery and elusive artist, but he can really thump when he sets himself to it.
“We have a wee bit of a problem at the moment in that he's carrying an injury in his right hand; it happened in his very first fight. It's not really anything major, but it's still a bit of a concern.
Irish president Dominic O’Rourke also believes Nevin can go all the way, though he knows the threat of the Russian.
“The Russian is a very good technical boxer but John Joe has the skills to match anyone in the world. It's a great opportunity for John Joe but it's going to be a cat and mouse clash and whoever makes a mistake will be punished,” said O’Rourke.