Wednesday 17 January 2018

Billy Walsh to sign USA deal in coming days as Anita pays tribute to 'great coach and friend'

Ireland boxing coach Billy Walsh
Ireland boxing coach Billy Walsh

Bernard O'Neill

Former Irish head coach Billy Walsh is expected to sign with USA Boxing at their Olympic trials in Tennessee in the coming week.

The trials begin at the Cook Convention Centre in Memphis tomorrow and run until Saturday.

The Americans will select their squad for January’s World Women’s Elite Championships and Olympic qualifiers in Kazakhstan after their trials.

The lightweight that emerges in Memphis could have Walsh in her corner if she is drawn against Katie Taylor in Kazakhstan. Taylor will be targeting her 6th successive title in Central Asia.

USA Boxing has declined to comment on the Walsh saga which has convulsed Ireland’s most successful Olympic sport since Walsh resigned last Monday.

Meanwhile, Zaur Antia believes Ireland will have at least seven boxers at Rio 2016.

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The 53-year-old was appointed Irish interim head coach after Walsh resigned on Monday. Antia, who has taken out Irish citizenship, hails from the Black Sea town of Poti in Georgia.

He won six Elite belts in his native land and is highly regarded as one of the best technical coaches in the world.

Current IBF pro champion Carl Frampton, an ex-Irish Elite champion, recently described him as the “Sir Alex Ferguson of the amateur code.”

Ireland’s interim chief seconds has worked hand in glove with Walsh and the Irish coaching staff for the last 13 years and has helped deliver an unprecedented level of success.

“Billy (Walsh) is a great coach, great manager, great friend. I wish him well, said Antia.

“Billy and me, we planned that. Seven boxers for the Olympics, I think seven qualify. Success, we have confidence success will continue.

“I think our boxers, they are in the nationals soon, will be maximum good at the qualifiers. Our performances will show at the qualifiers.”

Antia worked Taylor’s corner in the London Olympic final and last-year’s World final, along with Taylor’s coach and dad Pete Taylor.

Following January’s World Women’s Championships there will be further Olympic qualifiers for males and females in 2016 through regular amateur boxing, the World  Series of Boxing and AIBA Pro Boxing.

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