WALCOT boxer Patrick McDonagh had to dig deep to overcome a tough opponent in Portsmouth last Saturday to reach the national final of the Youth Championships, writes DAVE VEYSEY.

The 17-year-old faced London champion Daniel Barrett, a vastly experienced boxer, in a Class A (64kgs), encounter over three three-minute rounds.

During the opening session few scoring shots were landed, as both boxers respected each other’s lofty reputations and adopted a cautious gameplan of boxing behind a tight guard while only attacking sporadically.

Barrett also appeared to hold McDonagh at every imminent sign of danger, which a lenient referee let go.

Walcot’s former England schoolboy international wriggled free to score with a couple of southpaw jabs and a straight left just before the bell, which helped him to edge the round.

Both boxers raised their game during the second three minutes, with many more shots landed by both teenagers.

The London champion switched from an orthodox stance to a southpaw stance repeatedly to attempt to wrestle an advantage, but McDonagh showed his class in slipping Barrett’s jabs and scoring with several straight lefts to take the round.

Barrett came out fast in the final round in an attempt to redress the balance and enjoyed some success with left jabs and straight rights, but the Walcot boxer showed great heart and resilience to counter attack with southpaw jabs and right hooks in a exciting three minutes.

After a gruelling contest, it was McDonagh who had his arm raised by the referee, having been awarded a split points decision, two judges to one.

He said afterwards: “That was my hardest bout for some time, Daniel was a tough opponent who pushed me all the way.

“I’m delighted to have reached my second national final this season, and I hope to win my second title.”

Walcot chief coach Harry Scott was delighted with his protégé, saying: “That was a gutsy performance from Patrick, he really showed his courage in battling hard for three rounds.

“We don’t have long to prepare for the final as it is next Sunday, but we are there, which is the main thing.

“Patrick is the only boxer from the Western Counties to have reached the final, which shows how tough it is to get there.”