BY CHRIS MCNULTY
BILLY Walsh, the IABA High Performance coach, has urged Jason Quigley to keep pursuing his Olympic dreams.
Quigley has been the centre of much speculation of late having confirmed that he is open to a move to the pro game after reaching the World Championship finals in October, on the back of his winning of the European senior middleweight title in June.
The Ballybofey man had had the whirlwind year of it in 2013 and has confirmed that ‘serious offers’ have been put on his table which have bent his ear about turning pro.
The 22-year old is currently mulling over his options ahead of the defence of his Irish Senior title in early 2014.
Walsh has already lost John Joe Nevin to the professional ranks and one of Quigley’s rivals at middleweight, Conrad Cummings signed up to Barry McGuigan’s Cyclone Promotions at the end of the week.
Quigley and Paddy Barnes have been touted to switch from the amateur game and Walsh could scarcely afford to lose any more of his prized assets.
“The vultures are out there, hovering,” Walsh said on Saturday night at the RTE Sports Awards.
“Anyone who never goes to an Olympic Games will regret it. After that, these guys have plenty of youth on their side to carry on.”
Walsh has guided Irish boxers to unbridled success of late and, while funding is tight, he is hoping to hold onto his stars.
Walsh said: “Thankfully the Sports Council have supported these guys and helped them to get to that level.
“Their sponsorship has been crucial and critical to keeping the team together.
“We have developed such a squad now, we have been the second team in Europe at the last three European Championships, sixth in the World Championships and fifth at the Olympic Games.”
Walsh confirmed that the IABA are ‘reviewing’ the High Performance Unit with a view to ‘getting it right come Rio’ (for the 2016 Olympic Games).
Quigley – who was nominated for the 2013 RTE Sports Person of the Year award – has recently returned to full-time training and has taken the speculation in his cool style.
“These decisions have to be made over time and you can’t just jump at the chance,” the Finn Valley ABC man said. While noting that the High Performance Unit helped improve him Quigley has admitted the temptation of the professional sport.
He said: “Serious offers have been coming in.
“I’m sitting down with my family and working out what the best decision is for myself and my family towards the future. But there are definitely some very tasty offers out there for professional boxing.”