HE’S been a dominant force in the youth ranks for many years, but 18-year-old Newtownstewart lad Jude Gallagher appears to be equally so at senior level.
The European and World bronze medalist, who has ten Irish titles to his name, made his National Senior Elite debut last week in the quarter-finals when he eased past reigning Irish Intermediate champion, Monkstown’s Sean Kavanagh, 5-0 on the judges scorecards.
Then, on Monday night against the defending champion, Monivea’s Adam Hession, in the 52kg semi-finals, Jude took control of the contest early on in the first round after his opponent started fast in an attempt to wear the Tyrone lad down.
With some swift adjustments, the Two Castles Boxing Club member took over and rained shots on his opponent, but Hessian wasn’t backing down and continued to come forward.
The second round started as the first had ended at a fast pace, with both boxers landing some quality shots, but it was Jude’s cleaner punches that made the difference.
Heading into the third and final round, Jude was on fire, trading punches throughout and landing some quality shots, but still Hessian came looking.
However, in typical style, Gallagher kept punching and never backed down to get the nod from all five judges.
Jude will take on Regan Buckley (St Theresa’s) this evening in the final, although he is battling a sore throat and is hoping his condition improves before then.
Regardless, the supremely talented pugilist, who is one of the youngest involved in the Senior Elite Championships is confident and aiming high against last year’s 49kg title holder.
“He’s got a bit of pedigree about him, but I’m going to fight my own fight and do what I do to try to get the title,” explained Jude, who also has one eye on next year.
“Hopefully my 11th title will be on the way because to win a Senior title in my first year would be amazing, it would be something special.
“I’m happy to have reached the final, but these are during the Olympic cycle, so these could get you on the team or involved in selection for that – it’s a chance to get recognised for Olympic qualification for 2020.
“That would be something else!”
Jude won’t be the only local in the ring during today’s National Senior Elite finals as three local referee/judges will officiate during the day.
Ben McGarrigle (Mourne Golden Gloves), Ronan McMahon (Carrickmore) and Garry McGillion (Omagh Boys’ and Girls’ Club) have been selected as officials in the National Stadium, Dublin.
Tomorrow, Jude and his dad John, who is one of the national team coaches, will fly to Birmingham with the Ireland squad to take on England in the EUBC Youth Boxing Championships.