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Exciting times for big hitters

Following the fuss of box-offs and team selection, our Elite boxers now have their bags packed to travel to a training camp in Cologne on Sunday with their sights firmly set on the World Championships in Baku in a fortnight's time.

With Olympic qualification also on the line, it's going to be an important few weeks for what must surely be Ireland's strongest ever boxing team.

Head coach Billy Walsh is optimistic. "We have six lads in the top eight in Europe," he says. "If they're in that position in Baku then we're looking at Olympic qualification."

IABA President Tommy Murphy believes boxing in Ireland has never been in a stronger position. Ireland were impressive at the European Youth Championships two weeks ago when, with five medals, Ireland finished third in the rankings which were topped by Russia. "There's a huge future for these boys," said Murphy. "I said at the start of this Youth campaign that our aim is the 2016 Olympic Games and you can see we have a strong team developing. We have great future champions and we are very close to the Russians now."