DYLAN EAGLESON is like a younger version of Michael Conlan, who says it’s like looking in the mirror when he watches the 19-year-old in action.
This year, Bangor’s Eagleson won European Under-22 bronze, European senior silver and then Commonwealth Games gold in Conlan’s former bantamweight division.
And he looks a good bet to shine at Paris 2024 with teammates like Aidan Walsh, who won bronze at Tokyo 2020 and was one of Northern Ireland’s five gold medalists in Birmingham.
Conlan said, “When I watch Eagleson, it’s like watching a younger version of myself. Swear to God. He does so many things that I do. But also with a touch of Sean McComb in there.
“This little southpaw, hands down, kind of a shoulder-rolling thing. Sean did a lot.
“They are just smart fighters. I think if you’re going to fight Aidan Walsh, don’t bother because you can’t hit him.
“Aidan has always been like that, even since he was a kid. I remember going to Holy Family to train with Paddy Barnes when I was weight training. I was training loads of kids and even then you could barely hit him.
“He’s got it all and if he sticks to it he can beat everyone in amateur boxing. It obviously wouldn’t work as a pro, but that’s not the sport he’s into.
Walsh, in his day, looks unbeatable – and his presence in the amateurs may have been a factor in Kieran Molloy, Callum Walsh and Paddy Donovan leaving for the professional ranks.
Conlan added: “In three rounds you’re not going to beat this guy. Definitely not. He’s not the easiest to watch, but he doesn’t need to be because he wins and that’s everything that matters.
“He’s like a young white version of Julio Cesar la Cruz, the Cuban, with his hands down and you can’t touch a handful of rice.
“People want me to fight a certain way in professional boxing but in amateurs, if you can win, you win by any means necessary.
“It’s ‘you can’t hit me, I can hit you, and if I win in three rounds, ha ha’.”
Eagleson is the son of two-time Olympian Phil Sutcliffe, whose eldest son, Phil Jr, was a hard-hitting former Irish champion before turning professional.
Conlan said: “He doesn’t fight like a Sutcliffe! He’s got – I know he’s from the north – but he’s got that Dub in him.
“He’s the most arrogant kid I’ve ever seen in an Irish vest. He’s pretty quiet but even in training he was laughing and having fun. He doesn’t care. He has that Dublin attitude.
Despite the turmoil behind the scenes in Irish amateur boxing, it was a superb year in the ring.
Lisa O’Rourke and Amy Broadhurst won the World Championship titles in May before Gabriel Dossen triumphed at the Europeans later that month.
Conlan, who has also won European and World titles, added: “It was amazing. Gabriel winning that European gold… we’re still strong in the middleweight division. Still in contention and it’s back.
“I called him when he was young, said he was the commodity. A bit of waste and immaturity held him back but he grew up and you can see the strength of man in him now on his journey to Paris.
“It’s crazy how strong Irish men’s boxing was a few years ago. Now it’s women, it’s amazing.
Amy Broadhurst, when she turns pro, she’ll be like gold dust. She’s young, strong, smart, speaks well, she’s a good, good fighter and has been since she started.
“She’s won so many things and now she’s finally got her world gold medal. The O’Rourke sisters are flying.
“Women’s boxing flies, Irish boxing flies, and now after the Commonwealths it shows how strong they are.
“I give credit to my dad (Ulster High Performance boss John) you can see his circuit from here heading south and making it stronger.”