Fighting Chance - Dealgan Boxer Stephen Broadhurst aiming for European Championships, but first he has to win the Irish Youth Tournament

DEALGAN boxer Stephen Broadhurst is preparing for the fights of his life as he looks to storm the Irish Youth Tournament at the end of this month.

DEALGAN boxer Stephen Broadhurst is preparing for the fights of his life as he looks to storm the Irish Youth Tournament at the end of this month.

The 17-year-old middleweight knows that winning the competition will propel him to the European Youth Championships in August and he is leaving no stone unturned in his preparation for the competition.

Last year, the powerhouse won the Irish Under-18 title and was recently honoured by the Irish Amateur Boxing Association when he was crowned the IABA Junior Boxer of 2010.

Now though, according to his father and trainer Tony Broadhurst, he has his sights firmly set on winning the Irish Youth Tournament so that he qualifies for a European spot.

"Throughout his whole career, he has only trained like this once before", said Tony. "The last time was for the Under-18 title, which he won. He has been training since before Christmas, getting up at 6am and going to the gym or for a run, with more training in the afternoon."

Stephen has recently climbed up in weight classes as he is now fighting at 75kg, a weight he is more comfortable with.

"He has never looked better. He's stripped down of fat and looks strong and healthy. He is enjoying the new weight as it allows him to eat more, something he definitely enjoys."

The Youth Tournament will bring the cream of the crop of boxers in the country together in different weight classes, something Tony knows will be a tough competition to win.

"We do expect him to win it, because of his experience, but we don't want to tempt fate. The best boxers in the country will be there as they know this is how they get to the European Championships. They will be very experienced, having won medals all over the world, but we think he has a great chance.

"He has trained very hard for this one and is now believing in himself a bit more."

Tony explained that after fighting at the Golden Gloves in Serbia last year, Stephen's inner confidence grew after he beat Russia's 2009 World Champion, Magomed Gadzhiev. The Dundalk youth out-boxed Gadzhiev, winning 7-5 on a decision, but four of the Russian's points came through fouls.

"When he beat him, it seemed to open his eyes and he got that confidence in himself.

"Everyone was always telling him he was good, but then he started to believe in himself. He's still very modest, but now he will come to us and tell us that he wants to fight in certain competitions which is good to hear."

Not only did Stephen beat a World Champion last year, but his confidence was bolstered when he outclassed Italy's Under-18 World Championship representative - and Italian team skipper - Dario Morrello at the Stentino Open Air Festival of boxing in Sardinia.

"The fight against Dario, he won 5-0 which gave him more belief as Dario was the Italian captain and their representative in the World Championships so he has faced and beat people with World Championship experience."

At the moment, Tony is keen to keep Stephen's feet on the ground as the youngster looks towards a possible future move up to senior level, but for now, the focus is solely on the Youth Tournament.

But for Dealgan, the fights just keep coming and they had mixed success at the weekend at the National Novice Championships last weekend.

Niall Donnelly won his first fight on Friday night at 64kg, winning 4-1 before losing on a count back decision after a draw on the Saturday night.

Patrick Laverty won his fight on the Saturday night at 85kgs on a score of 6-2, whilst David Maguire lost his 85kg bout. Grainne Garvey was handed a walkover in the 50kg category.

gary@dundalkdemocrat.ie