Brendan Irvine admits he almost turned professional on family holiday

The Irish boxer was visiting family in the US before Christmas

Brendan Irvine

Image: ©INPHO/Ryan Byrne

Brendan Irvine admits a holiday to visit family last year almost led to the 20-year-old to join the professional ranks. 

The Belfast boxer made the trip to New York last Christmas and admits that the lure of the States was almost enough to tempt him to give up his amateur status.

"I’ve family over there so they were looking for me to stay," he said.

"They were saying 'stay here, we’ll look after you and get you signed up and everything else.' It only cropped up when I got over there, seeing the bright lights, the big pictures and my cousin with the big flashy cars.

"He was saying to me 'you don’t need to go home, what’s back at home’ and he was right, what do I have back home?

"I didn’t have much, obviously my family is there and if it wasn’t that close to Christmas I could have stayed there and you never know what might have happened.

"It’s unbelievable, the things you can do and see over there. It was hard to come home."

The decision came as a result of a difficult Olympic Games in Rio last summer, when the 2015 European Championships silver medalist lost his opening flyweight bout to Uzbekistan's Shakhobidin Zoirov.

Ireland's Brendan Irvine is beaten by Shakhobidin Zoirov of Uzbekistan. Image: ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Irvine was one of a number of Irish boxers who failed to make an impression at the Games, with Paddy Barnes, Michael Conlan and then-Olympic champion Katie Taylor all knocked out after one bout.

"Every boxer’s dream is to get an Olympic medal and the Olympics for me is still the pinnacle of the sport."

The decision not to make the switch to professional ranks is something he describes as "wise" and Irvine acknowledges that there will be chances to make the switch down the line.

"Thank God I actually did come home because I’m enjoying being down here [in Dublin] full time.

"I just thought in my head, I’m only 20 and there’s a lot more things happening here. I just have to take small steps at a time and eventually that chance to turn pro will come.

"It was wise, it was smart and it was the right thing to do. I’m only 20 and most people turn professional when they’re 24/25 when their body is fully developed and I’m physically just not ready."

The focus now switches back to the Olympic Games in Tokyo and preparation to atone for Ireland's performance last summer. 

"I just need to keep sticking to the plan. Tokyo is three or four years away but the time will fly. I remember sitting in the house watching London 2012 and next thing I was going to Rio. The time just flies."