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Making experience count

Story by Damian McCarney

Thursday, 10th January, 2013 1:31pm

Making experience count

Bartlomiej Jaskiewicz

Damian McCarney

"Brian said, 'Don't give up, don't give up,'" recalls Bartlomiej Jaskiewicz of his coach Brian McKeown urging him on during a pivotal semi-final bout in the Ulster Championships in 2011. Russian Yuri Piskun had the Polish fighter, affectionately known by his Cavan Boxing Club stablemates as Boris, all ends up in the first round.

"I wasn't ready for that fight," he confesses. "He nearly knocked me out. The referee started counting me in the first round; he counted to eight but I decided to fight."

The father-of-two survived the second round, but was trailing 7-3.

"I woke up and Brian gave me good advice in the corner - 'If you want to fight you can win it, if you don't want to fight just leave now.

"I went into the ring in the third round and knocked him out. Maybe I was lucky because I hit him with a right hook on the chin," he adds modestly.

"The week after we had the finals and I wasn't afraid at all, because I knew, it's not going to be worse [than the semi-final] - I'm going to win it."

When the 26-year-old goes to the National Stadium this weekend to compete in the National Novice Championships - for those with less than 12 bouts - not only will he have his father-figure coach in the corner, he will have memories of that night in Belfast from which to draw mental strength.

"Every fight makes you better, every fight gives you more experience," he says, sweat dripping from his brow after a tough work-out with Brian on the pads.

He will need to lean on his experience too as his preferred weight is 85kg, but due to muscular injury he failed to make his weight and is now fighting at 91kg.

"I don't mind. It would be better if I was at 85kg because I'm not too tall. They will probably be taller than me," says Jaskiewicz adding, that to neutralise his opponents' expected superior reach, his gameplan is to fight on the inside.

"Boris has quite a good record," says Brian, in an early contender for understatement of 2013. "He has eight fights and won seven of them, and seven of them he's won within the distance believe it or not."

That one defeat was against the fighter who went on to win the 2012 Irish Novices, where like this year, Boris had to punch above his weight at 91kg.

"He's a mature lad, he's a bit of a puncher so he's one that everyone tries to avoid.

"He trains well, he's athletic, tough, strong - a good puncher," adds Brian, and concludes that he's "among one of the favourites" going into the Novices and will be aiming to win it.

"It's all on the day and lucky enough, he doesn't have to depend on hometown decisions because he has a wee bit of power and it can be in his own hands sometimes, and hopefully that's what happens this time - we'll not leave it to any judges.

"He's another one we would seriously think about for the Ulster Seniors or Irish Seniors. But when you come into the senior championships now, you're coming up against funded athletes and the day of club boxers winning these championships is nearly a thing of the past."

Polish fighter Sebastian Stasiaczek, is another of Cavan Boxing Club's entries into the Novices. He has only had one fight in Ireland in the last four years, a draw.

"I'm feeling good now," he tells the Celt. "I think I'll win in the Novice."

His greatest asset he feels is: "I'm strong for my weight."

"Busy," says Brian, describing Sebastian's style. "He's light flyweight, he's small. He's a mature adult, he's tough and strong. He's fitter than he's been in a long time. Unfortunately he doesn't get a lot of contests in his own country. We've been unlucky in pinning him down for fights. We're obviously thinking about the Seniors but it's a big jump up for him when you see the main opposition in his weight group would be Paddy Barnes, the Olympic medallist, and if you push him up it's Michael Conlon [another Olympic medallist]. He's not really big enough to be giving away a lot of weight or height. At his own weight, and with his own natural ability, outside of the top two or three he's quite capable of going with any of them."

He's expecting him to do very well. If McKeown can keep the number of Sebastian's and Jaskiewicz's contests down, he will consider entering them into the Ringsides in the States.

"Sometimes you are better waiting and developing them along that route and getting them the contests and international experience abroad before you throw them to the wolves."

Super-heavyweight teenager Patrick McGinnelly from Longford town, who has recently returned to the Cavan Boxing Club fold after a spell working in Europe, will be fighting at the 91kg-plus ranks.

"He was quite a talented youth boxer at U17," says Brian.

"He is another one who has a wee bit of power. He's a very strong, well built lad; he's not carrying any surplus weight.

"On that weight division, maturity is every bit as important as bulk. With Patrick only being 17 you would have reservations putting him in with 91kg-plus 25-26 year olds because it's not just the weight, it's the maturity and presence. Big lads like that, when you get hit by them you stay hit. We'll give him a run and see how he goes."

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