Underdog Shauna O'Keeffe relishing opportunity to cause Katie Taylor upset
Shauna O'Keeffe will be aiming to cause one of the biggest upsets since David TKO’d Goliath when she faces Katie Taylor for the vacant Irish Elite lightweight title at Dublin’s National Stadium on Friday.
As underdogs go, the Tipperary prospect has already been written off ahead of her clash with Taylor, but her coach Martin Fennessey says she has the same Olympic dreams as any athlete and is oozing confidence.
Taylor, the current Olympic, World, European Elite, European Games and European Union champion, and O’Keeffe, the current Intermediate and Celtic Box Cup champion, meet over four-two minute rounds.
The 21-year-old Tipp stand out beat Clare’s Kayleigh Murrihy-McCormack on a unanimous decision last weekend to set up Friday’s four-rounder with the AIBA World No. 1, who received a bye into the final.
Taylor has four Elite belts to her name, but they’ve all been won on walkovers as no one has entered against her. Likewise, Friday will mark the first occasion she has fought for an Irish crown.
O’Keeffe will be giving it her best shot and is in the final on merit, according to Fennessey, who will be working her corner with Robert Scanlon.
“Shauna has an Olympic dream like anyone else. She’s a tough, determined and focussed young boxer and she has great belief in herself, he said.
“We’re excited to go into it and she deserves to be there on merit. She’s won an Intermediate title, she’s won the Celtic Box Cup. She won all four rounds last week (semi-finals).
“She didn’t drop a round. She’s in the final on merit. We’re not focussing on Katie Taylor, we’re focussing on what we can do.
"We know it’s an honour to share a ring with an Olympic champion and we’re going up to give it our best shot. Our mind-set is that we are looking for a top performance from our girl and we’ll see where that takes us.”
Meanwhile, Ceire Smith will be aiming for her 6th Elite belt against Commonwealth Games silver medallist Michaela Walsh on Friday evening.
Clare Grace, the only Irish female boxer besides Katie Taylor win a medal (bronze) at the European Elites, faces Grainne Walsh in the welter final.
The Irish Amateur Boxing Association are running the Elites for a second time this year to assist boxers heading into the Olympic qualifiers in 2016. The first qualifier for European men and women will be in Istanbul next April.
Elite Championships National Stadium Dublin
November 27th (7pm)
48kg L Hogan (St Brigids) v D Barr (Twin Towns)
51kg M Walsh (Holy Family GG) v C Smith (Cavan)
54kg D Duffy (St Brigids) v E Harrison (Ardnaree)
57kg J Lambe (Carrickmacross) v M McElligott)
60kg K Taylor (Bray) v S O’Keeffe (Clonmel)
64kg K Harrington (Glasnevin) v C O’Neill (Athlone)
69kg C Grace (Callan) v G Walsh (Sparticus)
75kg C Desmond (Fr Horgans) W/O
81+kg D Cambell (Garda) v M McCarron (Carrigart)