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Friday 27 January 2023 Dublin: 5°C
INPHO/Morgan Treacy Nevin: was due to sign pro terms in London last week.
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Walsh: Best efforts to keep John Joe, but we needed him to make his mind up
John Joe Nevin was left out of Ireland’s World Championship squad as he prepares to sign a professional deal.

BILLY WALSH IS bracing himself to lose one of Ireland’s best-ever boxers when John Joe Nevin turns professional.

Nevin was one of the Olympic heroes when he won silver in London last summer but now he is set to end his long-running flirtation with the pro game, despite the best efforts of the IABA and the Irish Sports Council.

Walsh revealed that the Mullingar star was due to sign a deal in London last week but that was postponed when Tyson Fury’s bout against David Haye had to be rescheduled.

Although he is still an amateur for now, Nevin was not included in the squad for the World Championships despite being Ireland’s only medallist at the last worlds and the bantamweight division’s number one seed.

Efforts to register Monaghan’s Gary McKenna in his place failed and Ireland will now have nine, rather than 10, when they fly out for their training camp in Kazakhstan this weekend.

After almost a year of back and forth discussions it came to a point where Nevin had to make his mind up, Walsh said.

“This has been ongoing. The guy has achieved almost everything he want to achieve in amateur boxing. An amazing man, an amazing talent, probably one the best I have seen don an Irish jersey.

We had the conversation, myself and John Joe: go and make your mind up.

“I gave him time to go home and I kept him away from the squad because intermittent training was affecting the lads returning from Belfast, Clonmel, Donegal, and John Joe’s not here.

“So you go home, make your mind up time. I was probably in a situation that I didn’t want to be in where I was going to drop him. I didn’t want to do that because he is a great young man.”

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INPHO/James Crombie

The Irish Sports Council tried to sway Nevin with a counter-offer which would have offered him some stability and allow him to compete at the 2016 Olympics in Rio, when he will be 27.

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Despite their best efforts the financial lure of the pro game appears to have been too strong.

“It is disappointing,” Walsh added.

“There was so much investment but these guys don’t owe us anything and we don’t owe them anything. We charted a journey together.

The first day I saw him in Drimnagh Boxing Club, Jim Moore was over the high performance junior team, [he was] 15 years of age.

I saw him spar and I said, ‘wow, where did this kid come out of?’ He just was electric, his judgement, his timing.

“He never won anything as a youth. He got to the quarter-finals of the worlds in Morocco but he never won anything. It was only when he became senior that we began to develop him.

“He’s part of the family and when you lose someone out of the family, it’s difficult. Now it’s my job and the coaches’ job to go and find a successor.

“Life moves on. Life will move on after Billy Walsh. Life will move on after John Joe Nevin. Life will move on after all this team.”

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