Matthew McCafferty returned to his degree studies at Queen’s University yesterday a little more tired than usual after a thrilling victory in the middleweight final of the Co Antrim Intermediate championships in the Dockers Club.
Twenty years on from brother and coach Gerard winning the middleweight title, Matthew edged a thriller with Hillview’s Pearce Knocker by a single point.
“I’m really pleased with that. It was a tough fight and I wasn’t sure who had it at the end. The crowd was amazing, I think they drove us both on,” said Maths student Matthew.
The 21-year-old St John Bosco boxer trailed 3-2 after the opening round which set the pattern for the next six minutes as they blazed away with copious amounts of leather at close quarters.
Going into the final round McCafferty still trailed, 8-7 but if there was a decisive moment it came right at the start of the third when the Bosco man rapped Knocker with three clean right hands.
The atmosphere in a packed out Dockers was electric and a further right hand forced Knocker to take a count but he came roaring back and they fought to a standstill with McCafferty nicking it 14-13.
Another tight encounter was to follow at heavyweight when William Close — son of former European champion Ray — met Christian Griffith of Holy Family who started the better of the two and edged the first 5-3.
Abbey ABC lad Close dug deep and had better success with his jab in the second and in the third they were punch for punch so it came as little surprise that the judges had it scored 14-14.
The contest went to the countback of punches and that came up 14-14 which meant the five judges had to vote for their winner and Close was declared the champion on a 3-2 split decision.
It was a successful night for the Bosco as 17-year-old Sean Higginson lifted the featherweight title. Higginson seemed to be controlling the action against Patrick Faloon of Camlough but was only 6-4 ahead after the second round.
Faloon relentlessly drove forward in the final three minutes and while Higginson walked him on to some quality blows, the 15-7 verdict was a little harsh on the Camlough lad.
“I got a great foundation with my coach Gerard Murphy at St Agnes and I just moved recently to the Bosco and it has paid off,” said Higginson, who will now look to make it a double in the Ulster Intermediate championships.
Holy Trinity enjoyed a hat-trick of titles which was kicked off by Paul Collins at flyweight.
Southpaw Collins used his right lead to good effect and was 7-5 up going into the final round against Nathan Dunn of Cairn Lodge.
As Collins tired a little, Dunn came on strong but the Trinity looked a clear winner and was handed a 15-14 decision.
Southpaw Darragh Hall came through a tough battle at lightweight, giving James Nolan of the Bosco a count on the way to a 15-7 victory. The hat-trick was completed by Bernaldo Marine who defeated Robert Preece of St John Bosco Newry 12-10 at light-welter.
Meanwhile, Olympic champion Katie Taylor has pledged her future to amateur boxing and it is understood John Joe Nevin might do likewise.
Nevin announced his decision to turn pro in a TV interview earlier this month, but has yet to sign a contract with Amir Khan’s Super Fight Promotions and is being offered a reputed annual 60,000 euro Irish Sports Council grant to stay amateur.
Other Antrim finals results: 54kg: Ryan Adams (Holy Family) bt Colin Lowrie (Glengormley) 18-13
67kg: Paul Donnelly (Scorpion) bt Thomas Waites (Holy Trinity) 8-3
71kg: Robert McGreevy (SH Newry) bt Gerard McCorley (Toome) 23-11.
85kg: Karol Diugosz (Scorpion) bt Michael Cummings (Holy Trinity) 31-8.