Boxing

My best is yet to come says Clonard rising star Conor Quinn

Clonard flyweight Conor Quinn defeated Germany's Umar Bajwa en route to the semi-finals of the Chemistry Cup, where he lost out to eventual gold medallist Gaurav Solanki. Picture by Mark Marlow

HE may have come up short against one of the top flyweights in the world for the second time in the space of a matter of weeks, but Conor Quinn feels it won’t be long until the gap starts closing.

The 19-year-old reached the semi-final stage of the Chemistry Cup in Germany, bringing home a bronze medal from his first-ever senior international competition – an event attended by all the top nations in the world.

Quinn eventually bowed out at the hands of Gaurav Solanki – a man who is well known to the top two 52 kilo fighters in Ulster at present.

The powerful Indian beat Brendan Irvine to the Commonwealth Games gold medal in Australia back in April, and finished top of the podium in Halle after defeating Cuba’s Jorge Grinan Merencio having edged past Quinn two days earlier.

It was the second time in a month Quinn had shared the ring with Solanki after a unanimous decision loss in Castlebar at the end of May. But the Clonard fighter feels progress was made even in that short space of time.

He said: “It was a good fight, a lot closer than it was in Castlebar.

“I knew they were coming to Germany so I had a wee idea in my head we might meet. He’s a good lad, I knew he wasn’t going to lose too easy.

“We both probably changed our tactics a bit from the last time. In Castlebar he was more aggressive whereas on Friday he was counter-punching more, but he’s very quick, throwing three and four punches on the back foot, which is hard to get used to.

“We know exactly what we need to work on to beat him, but it’s not going to happen overnight. We worked on our tactics the night before but you’re not going to wake up in the morning with all the tools to go and do it.

“I’m confident if I box him again down the line I could beat him. But just being here has been a great experience. All the fights out here were very competitive, right across the weights, and it’s been great for me to watch because it’s my first elite competition.

“I remember seeing some of the Cubans over here at the Andytown Leisure Centre when I was only 11 or 12, they were training for the London Olympics, now you’re seeing them in the lifts and about the hotel.

“It was a bit mad.”

Like most Irish boxers with Olympic ambitions, Quinn’s gaze is fixed firmly on next February’s Irish Elite Championships – the first step on road to Tokyo for all hopefuls.

He hopes to gain more international experience between now and then, and says he learned plenty from having Ireland’s only male Olympic gold medallist among the coaches in Germany.

“Michael Carruth has done it all on the biggest stage.

“He relates very well to the fighters so when you’re in the changing room before, he’s good to talk to, he would have you very relaxed going to the changing room. In the corner, he knows his boxing, so it’s brilliant having boys like that here.

“All the top nations are coming to tournaments like this because there are no majors this year. But there was no pressure on me over here, you were able to just go out and box to the best of your ability.

“Obviously you were going out to win but you know that, going away to these tournaments, you’d never get that kind of experience anywhere else. I’m happy enough to go anywhere and test myself against these different styles.”

Corr come out of retirement for Carruth charity showdown at stadium

Michael Carruth is hosting a 65-round challenge, in aid of Cystic Fibrosis Ireland, at the National Stadium on Friday night. Picture by Hugh Russell

THE National Stadium in Dublin has played host to the best Irish boxing has had to offer through the decades and on Friday night two legends of the noble art will go toe-to-toe at the famous old venue… although only for 60 seconds.

Michael Carruth – who remains Ireland’s only male Olympic gold medallist after his exploits in Barcelona 26 years ago – is taking part in a 65-round challenge to raise money for Cystic Fibrosis Ireland, and has invited everybody and anybody to step between the ropes for a good cause.

One of those who has answered the call is Coalisland’s Tommy Corr, a renowned fighter in his own right.

Indeed, by the time he hung up his gloves at the age of just 22, Corr had already boxed at the Commonwealth Games, European Championships and World Championships, as well as the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles.

And in 1982 the light-middleweight returned home with two bronze medals – from the Commonwealths in Brisbane and, impressively, the World Championships in Hamburg.

It may have been over 30 years since he last laced up gloves, but Corr had no reservations about joining his friend Carruth to support such a worthy cause.

“I knew Michael’s father Austin, and then Michael came on after I had finished and I just followed him the way I follow all the boxers,” said Corr.

“He messaged me about this charity event and two or three friends of mine suffer from cystic fibrosis so I wanted to give a hand. It does says it’s for those aged 18-40 so I texted him to ask ‘does that rule me out because I’m 55’, but he told me to come on ahead.

“I’ll give it a go. He’s doing 65 minutes with different people, with a minute break in between each, so it should be a bit of craic. It’s a charity event, not a digging match.”

The first spar gets under way at 6pm, and Corr certainly won’t be short of support on the evening.

“There’s mates of mine coming from England to watch this,” he added.

“I’ve tried telling them I’m only in for a minute but they want to be there, then there’s a bus-load going down from the GAA club here, Clonoe O’Rahilly’s.

“It’s a bit of a buzz – not many men can say they boxed an Olympic champion at the National Stadium in Dublin when they were 55. It’s an honour to be asked, and it’s all for a great cause.

“All I’m doing is getting in the ring for a minute, but every little helps.”

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