Willie McLoughlin will go through the pain barrier as he bids to retain his Irish welterweight title over the next three weeks.
The Donegal man has been suffering from a severe back injury in the past three months and has had to change his training regime in order to make sure he could be ready for the recent Ulster championships and the Irish Elite championships, which kick off tomorrow night. The weigh-ins and draw are made tomorrow.
While McLoughlin claimed his first Ulster senior title with a devastating first round victory, the man from Illies Golden Gloves knows he can expect a tougher time in Dublin while at the same time he has been pondering a switch to the professional ranks, with more than one offer on the table.
McLoughlin said: “I’ll have to see what happens but I know there are different options.
“I've had an offer to go to the States and there have been other offers and I'm waiting for a couple of people to come back to me. So I'm not sure at the moment.
“I’m concentrating now on the Irish seniors. I guess last year I was a bit of a surprise winner so I know you can't take anyone for granted.
“I'm sure it will be as hard as ever but I'm looking forward to it.
“From Tuesday to Friday I was going down to the high performance unit but haven't been down for three months because of a back injury.
“I’ve been having treatment on a lower back problem, having massages and it has meant I haven't been able to run which has always been very important to me to get the weight down and get myself fit.
“So they gave me a programme with the bike and that helped a lot but it was tough getting the weight down for the Ulster seniors. The high performance unit has been great for me and I was really pleased with the way the World championships went.
“My defence has improved a lot, I’m not getting hit with stupid shots and my confidence went up after the Worlds because I could see that I could handle it with the best. I’ve also been punching a lot harder and I’m not sure why? I guess it probably has a lot to do with the weights programme I've been on.”
The Irish finals will be held on March 5 at the National Stadium.