Boxing

Seconds Out: Dominic Bradley glad to be back with new lease of life

Dominic Bradley, pictured taking on Jack McGivern at last year's Ulster Elite Championships, saw off Cookstown's Teo Alin in last Friday's Irish semi-final. Picture by Declan Roughan
Neil Loughran

THE breaks haven’t always gone Dominic Bradley’s way, but finally he feels like the road before him is beginning to open up a bit.

Bradley produced a near punch-perfect performance to beat Cookstown’s Teo Alin in their 60 kilo semi-final, moving him into another all-Ulster clash – this time a decider against Star’s JP Hale at the National Stadium on Saturday.

It is his second crack at the Irish elite championships, though ambiguity over his chosen weight muddied the waters during recent years.

When he last boxed at the stadium, it came in the wake of AIBA - amateur boxing’s world governing body - announcing a reshuffle of its Olympic weight classes.

That left the likes of Ulster and Irish champion James McGivern in limbo, the St George’s ace ultimately opting to abandon his Olympic dream after 56, 60 and 64 became 57 and 63. Bradley knew the feeling.

There was still a 60kg class at the 2019 Irish elites, but only the Swatragh man and Ballymun rival David Oliver Joyce entered. By the time the 2020 Ulster elites rolled around, Bradley boxed at 63kg and came out the wrong side of a 3-2 split decision against the taller Jack McGivern.

Now back down where he belongs, and with 60kg back in the mix for AIBA competitions and, potentially, the 2023 Olympics, Bradley is raring to go.

“I felt very good against Teo, very comfortable, especially after being out of competitive action for so long.

“Even wee things I’ve been working on, wee improvements we’ve been making, it was good to get in and actually use them.

“Teo and I would’ve known each other well enough going into it, but I felt like I’d come on a good bit over the last year or so, even during the lockdowns. I’ve just been working on wee simple things that make pretty big differences.

“I didn’t really know I was going to have that kind of performance against Teo. After so long out, you don’t really know what to expect. So to box the way I did, it boosted my confidence no end.”

In the time since that last Ulster elites appearance, Bradley has relocated to the Emerald club in west Belfast, and is training with former Ulster and Irish champion JP Delaney.

Bradley admits it was a “very tough decision” to leave Errigal BC and experienced coach Danny Deighan but, even though he’s travelling over an hour to training four nights a week, the 22-year-old felt a change was needed to ignite his amateur career.

“It was the type of thing where it was now or never really. I just wanted to try something new, and up in the city there’s that bit more opportunity, more sparring, then there’s the boys you’re training beside.

“But look, I’ve massive respect for Danny and I always will have. I was with Danny from I was no age but it was just time to move on. Sometimes you have to make decisions that are not nice, but if you don’t try something different you’ll never know.

“I’m enjoying it with JP, he was a serious boxer himself and has a serious boxing IQ. I got to know him up at the Ulster High Performance, he’d have been doing loads with me up there and that’s how I knew he was so good. For me he’s the best young coach in Belfast.

“He studies boxing, he sees things that people wouldn’t see – technically, tactically, it’s the wee things that get you over the line, where if you weren’t thinking of these things, it can be the difference between winning and coming up just short.

“In those elite competitions, the margins are that fine.”

And so it proved on a weekend of mixed results for other Ulster boxers competing in Dublin.

Letterkenny flyweight Paddy McShane pulled off an impressive win, defeating Michael Stokes (St Michael’s, Athy) on a 2-1 split.

Mullaghbawn’s Eugene McKeever - who boxes out of the Holy Family club in Drogheda - advanced to the 67kg decider against Wayne Kelly after a shoulder injury forced Michael Avetisian to withdraw in the third and final round of their semi-final showdown, while Jack McGivern proved too strong for Nathan Richmond, stopping the Scorpion fighter in the first round.

However, there was disappointment for Holy Trinity’s John McConnell, Canal’s Chloe Fleck, Jude Gallagher of Two Castles and Derry super-heavy Patrick Rogers.

McConnell turned in an impressive performance on his elite debut but it wasn’t enough to convince the judges, who awarded the fight to Brandon McCarthy 5-0, while Fleck also lost a unanimous decision to Shannon Sweeney.

Gallagher came up short against European U22 silver medallist Adam Hession in their 57kg semi-final on Friday night, and the following day Rogers lost out to Cavan’s Thomas Maughan on a 4-1 split decision.

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Brandon McCarthy (pictured left) is next up for Jack McGivern in Saturday's Irish final at the National Stadium. Picture by Mark Marlow

McCARTHY UP NEXT FOR McGIVERN IN IRISH FINAL

ONE of the fights of the night this Saturday promises to be the light-welterweight final between Jack McGivern and Brandon McCarthy - and both men will know exactly what to expect when they step between the ropes at the National Stadium.

The pair met five times during their underage careers, with McCarthy holding a 3-2 advantage, but McGivern has grown in size and stature since those days.

After admitting nerves got to him ahead of his 2020 Ulster elite final clash with Daryl Clarke, McGivern kept his cool to easily dispatch an opponent who looked way out of his depth – the St George’s man catching Nathan Richmond with a big left before forcing another count seconds later.

The towel eventually came in from his opponent’s corner, and he now looks forward to Saturday’s Irish final showdown against the tricky McCarthy.

“That was Jack’s first fight in over a year-and-a-half, and he got the job done,” said St George’s coach Danny Boyd.

“I’ve seen massive improvements in Jack even in the past month. He was sparring away with JP Hale and Dominic Bradley, at the start the spars weren’t going too well but then he started picking up.

“Thankfully he’s just clicked into gear at the right time.”

McCarthy had a much tougher fight in his semi-final, getting the nod from the judges after an intriguing battle with Holy Trinity’s John McConnell.

And Boyd knows his man will have to be at his best to come back up the road with the 63.5kg crown.

“They’ve fought a load of times down the years, so they know each other very well.

“Jack knows what he’s up against – the same goes for Brandon McCarthy. He’s a talent, but Brandon will know he’s not getting it easy with Jack.

“With Jack being a southpaw, he can make it awkward for anybody… he’ll do a few rounds with [older brother] James this week, but he’s in good form, he’s confident, he’s fit as a flea. There’s no reason Jack can’t win on Saturday.”

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Boxing