John Joe Nevin now has his sights set on Olympic gold after returning home yesterday with a World Championships bronze medal hanging around his neck.
Nevin, the new hero of Irish boxing, made it clear that he would not be swapping the Irish vest for a shot at the professional ranks. London 2012 is the 20-year-old's target.
The youngest ever Irishman to win a medal at the World Championships knows offers may come his way but he is adamant that he has much more to offer in the amateur sport.
“I'm taking a few weeks off now and then I'll be back in full training for the National Senior Championships and then the European Championships,” said Nevin.
“All I am interested in is the Olympics — the professional game isn't even in my head right now.
“I missed out on a medal in Beijing last year — I only lost out to the eventual gold medallist, Enkhbat Badar-Uugan from Mongolia, in the second series — but, pleaseGod, I'm getting better by the year and by the time London comes around I'll be ready for anybody in the world.
“It's been a fantastic 12 months or so, getting to the Olympic Games and only going out there to the eventual gold medallist and then winning a bronze medal at my first World Championships.
“The hardest fight was probably the quarter-final against the Chinese guy, Yu Gu. It was certainly the most frustrating, because it was so, so tactical. The semi-final against the Russian, Eduardo Abzalimov, was also a hard fight because it it a physically and mentally a tough one, but it was still tough to lose it by just a single point.
“It could have gone either way. I can't say I got a particularly bad decision, but if I had got it by a point, well, I don't think he could have said he was robbed either.
“I'm now in the top four in the world and I'm really looking forward to the future. I was one punch away from making the final. I'm in the top four in the world and maybe even the top two.
“Next time I want to make history and become the first Irishman to make a final.”
“I owe a special thanks to my coach at the Cavan Boxing Club, Brian McKeown. The entire High Performance Programme — and especially the head coach, Billy Walsh — have helped me tremendously, but Brian has to get a lot of credit too because he was the one who took me under his wing from when I was 13 or 14 years of age.
“When I went to Brian in the beginning, I was that bad that I didn't know my left hand from my right one. He brought me on a hell of a lot.”