Dylan has European dream

Bangor boxer Dylan Eagleson believes success at the European Under 22 Boxing Championships in Croatia could help him secure a place at this year’s Commonwealth Games. Last month, the 18 year-old defeated Michael Stokes in Dublin to win the Irish Under 22 Championship in the 54kg class. He followed that up with a victory over Scotland’s Matt McHale in Belfast a fortnight ago. This week, Eagleson will represent Ireland at the European Championships in Porec. The prestigious youth tournament starts tomorrow and runs through to March 24. Eagleson told the County Down Spectator: “I beat Michael Stokes in the Irish Championships last month, and he is an Irish international and a tough competitor. “Then I beat a Scottish fighter last week in an international match, who is 25 and has been to the World Championships. Those two wins have given me confidence. I believe I can beat anyone at Under 22 level. I believe I will come back from the Europeans with a medal, hopefully gold.” If Eagleson can secure a medal in Croatia, he has a fighting chance of competing at this year’s Commonwealth Games in Birmingham. However, he faces stiff competition for Northern Ireland’s one spot at 54kg from Brendan Irvine. 25 year-old Irvine won silver at the 2018 Commonwealth’s in Australia and represented Ireland at last year’s Olympics in Tokyo. It would be a huge upset if Eagleson was picked ahead of Irvine, but the Bangor teen believes he has what it takes. Dylan explained: “Brendan is a fantastic boxer. We both box out of St Paul’s in Belfast, so we know each other well. But I believe I’m good enough to represent Northern Ireland at the Commonwealths. We will both be assessed at the High Performance Centre in Jordanstown, and they will pick who they think is best. “I’d love to get that opportunity. After that, my next goal is to fight at Paris 2024. It will be the last Games before boxing is taken out of the Olympics. “Without boxing I would probably be out every weekend, running around with my mates. Boxing gives me a real focus. I’ve got a massive opportunity and I’m determined to make the most of it.” Dylan is represented by his brother Paul Eagleson. Paul is keen to secure sponsorship for his younger sibling. He said: “Dylan trains every day. He trains in Belfast with St Paul’s, at Jordanstown’s at the High Performance Centre and in Dublin with the Ireland team. It’s difficult because he’s not a funded boxer. “We rely on support from family, friends and local businesses like the Salty Dog. We’re keen to attract new sponsors so Dylan can follow his dream. He’s a young, special talent that can go all the way to the top.