Hale faces familiar foe for Irish title
John Paul Hale will look to make it two titles in the space of seven days when he guns for the Irish under-22 crown in the National Stadium in a repeat of his war of attrition with Colm Murphy on Saturday night at the Ulster Hall.
On an evening when the lack of gold standard amateur boxing was made up for by the entertaining endeavour at the Ulster Elite finals, Hale and Murphy served up the bout of the night in their featherweight scrap.
Hale, of Star ABC, found a hammer right hand to send Murphy crashing to the canvas in the first round but somehow the St George's man rose to his feet and in rounds two and three they slugged it out. Hale, who was tiring badly in the latter stages, was handed a 4-1 verdict and then turned his sights to Friday night and their under-22 final clash.
"I knew this was going to be a good fight and the under-22 final should be just as good. I don't know he got up from the knockdown," said 18-year-old Hale, who landed his first Ulster Elite title.
Murphy's clubmate James McGivern now has his sights on the Irish Elite 63kg title after comfortably defeating Dylan Duffy of Pegasus in Saturday night's welterweight decider.
McGivern, a bronze medallist at the Commonwealth Games last April, knows that victory in Dublin next month will open the door for European and World championship opportunities as well as the chance for a shot at qualifying for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
"The Olympics is the main goal and this is only a step on the way. I'm into the Irish (Elite championships) now and then hopefully the Europeans that will lead to the Olympics," said McGivern.
"I hadn't fought in a while, so I warmed into the fight. Dylan was coming forward and I had to find the range. He's a tough customer and can hit hard so I had to keep moving."
Paul McCullagh of St John Bosco was the most explosive Northern Ireland man on the night as he stopped Noel Donnelly of Holy Family Drogheda in the first round of their 81kf final.
Camlough's Fergus Quinn impressed with a points win over Oakleaf's Brett McGinty at 75kg.