TAKING a break didn't ease the agonising wait for Sean McComb. The Irish lightweight champion had just tied up another victory at the National Stadium over George Bates in a repeat of February's national elite final.

However, the August box-offs were designed to give selectors some pointers for the Ireland team to travel to Kazakhstan for the World Championship in October.

At the time, McComb's was a bittersweet victory. He was informed shortly after by coach Michael Hawkins that it hadn't guaranteed him a place on the plane to Almaty, due to an injury earlier in the box-offs to David Oliver Joyce, and the subsequent postponement of a bout between George Bates and Eric Donovan after the latter indicated he wouldn't be taking part.

As the only two men left standing, Bates and McComb squared off and now, three weeks later, the Holy Trinity man has been able to enjoy the spoils of that victory.

The IABA had pencilled in a four-man box-off this weekend for the one remaining spot on the Ireland squad, but Antrim officials argued a strong case for McComb's inclusion without the need for a fresh tournament.

Last weekend, the delegation to the national council successfully made their case and McComb has been granted that prized place in the squad alongside fellow Belfast boxers Paddy Barnes, Michael Conlan and Tommy McCarthy.

McComb took a well-earned holiday after last month's box-offs, with the prospect of having to again earn his place on the team.

But, as coach Michael Hawkins revealed: "It's certainly been a great relief to him and it's a relief to us. It seems that there's been a bit of justice there.

"We're delighted, it's a good decision for us and a good decision for boxing."

Hawkins revealed they received widespread support for their position after the initial box-offs and got strong backing from the Antrim board, who meticulously studied the rules in building the case for McComb.

"Paddy Barnes snr, the president of the Antrim board, and secretary Mal Scott, they and the Antrim board prepared the case for Sean and we'd like to thank them for their efforts," said Hawkins.

T HE 21-year-old southpaw will now round off a memorable year by rubbing shoulders with the world's best amateur boxers.

After securing the national title in February, he participated in the Usti nad Labem Grand Prix in the Czech Republic, claiming a silver medal.

It was that result which released much-needed funding for McComb and he was part of an Ireland training camp which travelled to Kazakhstan in April and also featured Olympic medalists John Joe Nevin, Paddy Barnes and Michael Conlan.

McComb was part of the Ireland squad for the European Championships in Minsk in June, losing to eventual gold medal winner Pavlo Ischenko of Ukraine in the first round

"He lost so narrowly too, one judge could have given it one way or another," said Hawkins.

"So he's not downbeat about that whatsoever.

"It was a tough draw, but we're taking all the best out if it.

Hawkins believes that participating in the world championship will further aid McComb's development and predicts a bright future for his fighter.

"Sean's future is good. He's only 21. It's up to him to put in the effort because he's a class act. On his night, he is a very classy boxer. He's a confident lad too."


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