Willie or Won’t He?

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ILLIES Golden Gloves clubman, Willie McLaughlin is confident he can usurp Adam Nolan’s Irish welterweight crown when the pair go toe-to-toe in tonight’s exciting National Elite Boxing Championships decider at the National Stadium.

SIMON COLLINS reports

The Blue Riband event of Irish boxing will be televised live on RTE Two tonight and the 27 year-old Buncrana man is determined to make a name for himself and end his opponent’s recent domination of the division.

London 2012 Olympian, Nolan, a 25 year-old Garda from Bray, is bidding for his third Irish title in succession but McLaughlin is confident he can upset the odds at the South Circular Road venue.

McLaughlin is a former National champion himself, having claimed the crown in 2009 and after impressing with a 16-14 victory over Beijing Olympian, John Joe Joyce in the semi-finals last Saturday, the Inishowen man is hoping 2013 will be the year he finally regains the title.

In fact tonight will be the Illies GG member’s third final appearance, his first since his 2010 defeat to Joyce, and he has taken great confidence from his last four win over the St Michael’s, Athy man - a fight billed as one of the best of the tournament so far!

“The semi-final was probably the fight of the tournament so far and it would’ve been a good final it was one of those fights,” said McLaughlin last night.

“Unfortunately it wasn’t and I still have one more to go. I was confident coming into the fight because I boxed him before and I knew I should have beat him before.

“From the first round I was planning to go attacking and he stood in front of me too and went toe-to-toe, which suited me.

“After the first round I was one point up which I was happy enough with and in the next round was all level - which was my best round of the fight - and I felt I should’ve been four or five points up at least after that.

“We came in after the second round and I was one up as well and I was disappointed from that perspective. I thought I was maybe going to get a raw deal but I just kept my head in the game for the last round and came out with the right result.

Knocking on the Door

“I’ve been knocking on the door this last few years since I last won the title. I’ve just been unlucky at times and was beat in the final and a couple of semi-finals so hopefully this is my year.”

McLaughlin has been representing Italia Thunder in the World Series of Boxing at middleweight and has enjoyed plenty of success in the past year but he feels a lot more comfortable at 69kgs and is hoping his experience at the WSB will give him an edge in tonight’s decider.

“I went six undefeated in the World Series of Boxing, I was beat once in seven so my confidence is really high at the minute, especially as I’ve been fighting above my weight. I’ve been fighting at 73kgs so everything’s going well in that regard. Going into this fight I’m definitely confident but this will be a completely different fight because Adam is a real, awkward customer.

Despite needing treatment on a hip injury sustained in training, he insists he’s on top of his game but he is expecting his toughest test yet against the Co. Wicklow man.

“The swelling’s come down well on my hip,” he revealed.

“It hasn’t cleared up fully but it’s getting there. Another day will do it the world of good anyway.

“He’s going for his third in a row and he was at the Olympics in London so he’s definitely going to prove hard to beat.

“The guy he beat in the semi-final, Brian Brosnan is no mug. He’s been about for some time and boxed at 75kg for years. Most of the people at this weight didn’t want to meet Brosnan because of his style.

“Nolan is a big, tall, awkward southpaw and I’m going to have my work cut out for me to get at him.

“He is the champion, but I have the work done and my form is good. I was confident going into the Joyce fight last weekend and I’m confident heading into Friday night’s fight,” insisted McLaughlin.

The Elite Finals Night begins at 7pm tonight and RTE Two’s live broadcast begins at 9.45pm.