Last man standing Jude Gallagher eyes final destination at World Youth Championships in Hungary
HE’S Ireland’s last man standing out in Budapest, and today Jude Gallagher bids to book his place in the final of the World Youth Championships.
The Tyrone teenager won a bronze medal at the Europeans back in April, and has already secured at least the same in the Hungarian capital after impressive victories over China’s Renuex Zhao and tough Brazilian Rafael Bianchi.
Light-flyweight Gallagher overwhelmed Zhao in his preliminary round fight, hurting his tall, rangy opponent with body shots en route to a unanimous decision win.
And he was in similarly dominant form against Bianchi on Saturday, using his boxing skills to work off the back foot as the Brazilian powered forward, taking the decision on all five judges’ scorecards.
That moved him into the semi-final, where he meets Thailand’s Thitisan Panmod in the first session this morning, with Gallagher expected in the ring around 11am.
Considering he is still only 16, and will be fighting at this age grade again next year, it is already a remarkable achievement – but the Two Castles, Newtownstewart ace isn’t ready to stop yet.
“Ah, not really,” he said when asked if he felt any pressure being the last remaining Irish fighter.
“I’ve already got my medal so I’ll just go out and box. I’m under no pressure, but of course I’m going out to win.
“Most of the fellas I’m boxing are probably 17-18 but I’m still big for the weight, big and strong. This’ll be my last time holding the weight too before going up to 52.
“I want to get to the final and win the whole thing here. There was a lot of pressure on me in the last fight to get to the medal stages but that’s off me now, so I’ll just go out and box the best I can.
“I didn’t know much about the Chinese boy I fought first. I just went in and pushed him back, I was aggressive against him and I destroyed him really. Every time I got inside I was hurting him, so I won it well.
“The Brazilian was harder to break down because he had a tighter guard. It took longer to break him down but I got there in the end.”
The Thailand team has already accounted for three Irish boxers thus far, with Kittiya Nampa edging out Immaculata’s Caitlin Fryers, Panpatchara Somnuek also taking a split against Dearbhla Rooney and Nillda Meekoon beating European gold medallist Daina Moorehouse.
So Gallagher is hoping to make it fourth time lucky when he steps between the ropes today.
“They’ve got the decision every time so I’ll have to put a stop to that,” he added.
“This fella was fighting after me on Saturday and I watched the video back; he’s a bit like the Chinese boy, likes to box long, keep his distance, throws the back hand a lot, so we’ve been working on a few things for him.
“I’m feeling good. Since the Europeans, I feel as though I’ve come on loads. I was down training in Abbotstown with the elites, we were down there training for three weeks with Zaur Antia, and that’s real good, top level training.
“It’s brought me on loads.”
Irish coach Billy McClean is a long-time admirer of Gallagher, and hasn’t been surprised by his performances in Hungary.
With Thailand in the opposite corner again, now is the perfect time for Ireland to get off the mark.
He said: “This will be our fourth meeting with Thailand at this championships and we’re looking forward to our first victory over them.
“We’ve had a bit of bad luck, especially with Caitlin Fryers and Dean Clancy, but at the same time we are coming home with a medal and we have high hopes that Jude can lead the team to a possible berth in the final.
“Considering he’s only 16, that tells you how fantastic this is, in an under 18 competition. For us in the High Performance, we only get to polish the diamonds that area created at club level.
“Great credit must go to John Gallagher and Mickey O’Neill from Two Castles for producing this kid from he was 11 years of age.
“They deserve all the credit going for Jude’s achievement here, and we’ll be giving it our very best to try and upgrade the colour of his medal.”
FRYERS CAN BOUNCE BACK FROM WORLDS DISAPPOINTMENT INSISTS IRISH COACH McCLEAN
IRISH coach Billy McClean has tipped Caitlin Fryers to bounce back from her controversial exit at the World Junior Championships.
The Immaculata pocket rocket looked to have dominated large sections of her last 32 clash with Kittiya Nampa in Budapest, only for the judges to give the Thai boxer the nod on a 4-1 split decision.
It was a tough one to take for the young flyweight, who won a bronze medal at the same competition in India last year.
But McClean has backed Fryers to bounce back.
“Caitlin, in our opinion, completely dictated the pace of the contest against a very tall, awkward opponent,” said the west Belfast man, who is head coach of the junior/youth male teams at the Irish Athletic Boxing Association (IABA).
“We felt that over the three rounds, Caitlin did more than enough with her aggressive style, putting her opponent under a lot of pressure, to get the verdict.
“We were quite taken aback and shocked by the decision – a very, very close decision – that went against us. We thought Caitlin, in the first and third round, was in control.
“But she can be very proud of her performance in this tournament. She’s definitely on the right track going forward internationally, she gave an outstanding performance and we’re very pleased with her.”