Boxing: Will of Iron
CONALL Carmichael has been pumping iron.
The 23-year-old part time barman from West Belfast has beefed up from middleweight to have a crack at a first Smithwick's Ulster amateur heavyweight title at Thursday's finals at the Ulster Hall, Belfast.
The six-footer took the plunge in the big boy division last Thursday, and outscored cagey Tommy Donnelly (Mark Heagney, Kildress) 18-5 in the semi-finals.
The Belfast Holy Trinity club hitter collides with 20-year-old Shane Curran of Enniskillen.
Both boxers were members of the ill-fated Northern Ireland team at the Manchester Commonwealth Games.
Coach Michael Hawkins claims: "Conall has been on a weight-training course since the Games, and has bulked to heavyweight. He is supremely strong.
"I thought the move up would be to light-heavy, and I still feel he can come down and settle into the light-heavyweight division.
"That will be his target in next month's Irish championships in Dublin. First up, there's a very interesting contest with young Curran, who is an excellent boxer.
"At 23 years of age, Carmichael is just starting, I feel - even though he became an Irish middleweight champion at 18 years of age.
"He won the Ulster light-heavyweight title two years ago.
"The reason why he ballooned up then was because he suffered injuries in an accident, and was just back in the gym.
"He couldn't make the middleweight limit at the time, but came down last season. After winning the middleweight title, he now has a good chance of making it a hat-trick from three different weight categories."
Carmichael enjoys quality sparring with IBO super-middleweight champion Brian Magee. He looks the part to beat Curran, who is a very skilful boxer, carefully coached by former professional featherweight Kenny Bruce.
You can never tell how boxers cope with the electric atmosphere, sure to be almost bedlam at times in the compact Bedford Street arena.
Holy Trinity is one of two clubs chasing hat-tricks, and one will not succeed.
Antrim-based bantam Brian Gillen takes on champion Martin Lindsay (Immaculata) - and in the flyweight grade where Barry Reilly takes on Shaun McKim of Abbey, Bangor, for the crown vacated by Liam Cunningham of Saints.
Last year, 20-year-old McKim, a plasterer from Bangor, was stopped in three rounds in the light-flyweight final by Paul Baker (Immaculata) McKim is of a former Ulster Intermediate champion. …