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Byline: Ian Johnson

HIGHLY-TALENTED Antonio Counihan is so determined to be a successful professional boxer that he his prepared to go against the medical advice of the all-powerful British Boxing Board of Control.

The Board have refused to give him a licence to box for pay because a brain scan has shown up a worrying shadow which experts say is nothing more than a birth mark.

Counihan's father Paul, who has coached the super-featherweight to a fantastic amateur career which included world recognition and England selection including as captain, is calmly philosophical and sees a possible future in Spain.

He told me from the Eastside Amateur Boxing Club: "We decided last November to turn professional. Despite his fantastic record as an amateur it was clear Antonio was not going to make the London Olympics and we thought hard and long about waiting four years for Brazil.

"It was a non-starter and we decided to move on. We agreed to have Jon Pegg as manager and Frank Maloney as promoter. All was in place and all we needed to go ahead with our first fight in Sunderland in December was a Board licence.

"Disaster struck with the authorities refusing to okay the go-ahead because the brain scan was suspect.

We were distraught.

"But we fought back and to cut the story short we had two professors give their opinions and they both said that there was insuffi-cient evidence to stop Antonio from boxing.

"This information was given to the Board and they took a very long time in replying. Still no go.

"We decided to look at our options and out of the blue we learned that Matthew Macklin was opening a gym in Spain. We made contact and Antonio went out to Marbella to join Matthew and help him prepare for his recent fight against Joachim Alcine.

"He loved every minute of the experience and we decided to apply to the Spanish authorities for a professional licence. We are hoping for an answer next week and keeping fingers crossed that they will give us the green light.

"We don't want to get too excited but the plan would be for Antonio to train here at the Eastside gym in Birmingham and then go out to Spain for a week or ten days before he fights over there.

"We are sure he will get a lot of support from fans who will mix sun and sand with the boxing.

"I fully understand the position of the British authorities. They want to protect the boxers at all times. In this case they have been too stringent and we have been forced to take another avenue. We are happy with that.''


Antonio Counihan hopes to fight in Spain.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Geographic Code:4EUSP
Date:Sep 29, 2012
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