When Irish boxing legend Michael Conlan takes notice, you know you’re special.
Fresh from his dominant victory over Miguel Marriaga in Belfast last night, Conlan was the first to take to Twitter to hail newly crowned Commonwealth Games champion Dylan Eagleson.
Eagleson produced a stirring display at Birmingham’s NEC to come from behind against Ghanaian Abraham Mensah in the bantamweight final and add another gold to Northern Ireland’s tally.
And Conlan wrote: “Dylan Eagleson 19-year-old Commonwealth Games champion, fantastic performance to pull it back after losing the first round. Well done champ.”
The tweet perfectly summarised another statement-making display from Eagleson, who admitted that the reality of what he had achieved was still hitting home after the fight.
“It hasn't really sunk in yet but I'm sure it will later. What a feeling, especially at 19. Hopefully, I can come back in another four years and do it again,” he said.
“I came back, and I was 4-1 down and I don't know why because I was feeling comfortable in there. He just had a bit of a push but then the second and third round I had to dig deep.
“I had to dig deep and there were points where I was standing on him and I don't really stand on people, but I had to do it. I came back in the second round and my corner told me I was up 5-0 and so I just had to come out and box smart in the third round.
“It’s just an unbelievable feeling. Just when all the crowd was cheering and looking back on the past few months, it all sunk in. This medal still hasn’t sunk in, but I know it will.”
This summer, Team Northern Ireland, supported by funding raised by National Lottery players, will compromise of over 100 athletes, all vying for medal success.
Eagleson had beaten both Armando Rugoberto Sigauque from Mozambique and Scotland’s Matthew McHale to reach the final, with the latter a narrow 3-2 split decision.
He looked in trouble after the opening round in Birmingham, finding himself down on four of the five judges’ scorecards, but his response in the second and third rounds was emphatic.
“I believed in my ability. Even coming here, I knew I was the one to beat. I had a few tough fights. I give credit to all my opponents. But I came here to win, and I wasn't getting beat,” he said.
Eagleson’s success was made all the sweeter by having his family and friends in attendance as he delivered the sort of performance that would make his heroes proud.
“I’ve always looked up to the likes of Michael Conlan, Brendan Irvine, Paddy Barnes, just watching what they did in the amateur game made me want to do it. Ever since I was ten, my mum took me down to a boxing club and I just kicked off from then,” he continued.
“My mum, my brothers, my dad, my sister are all here. Ralph’s (McKay, coach) family too and his wife, and my dad’s here to as well so it’s special.”
Eagleson also left his mark on the recent European Championships, taking silver after losing to Frenchman Billal Bennama, and he said is beginning to relish the major stage.
“I like to show people what I'm capable of and to get my hand raised,” he added.
“And to hear everyone was an unbelievable feeling. I surprised myself a bit at the Europeans but after that, I know I’m here and everyone’s going to know about it.
“I was comfortable enough out there. It was just after the first round when I was down, it’s never a nice feeling, but I’ve been down before in the first round and come out and won a fight.
“I knew I could do it. Sometimes if you get told you're down you can put your head down. But no, I went out with my head held high and won the round.”
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