Thursday 14 December 2017

Ireland's Olympic hopefuls left sweating over 'Worlds' inclusion

Boxing

Vincent Hogan

Vincent Hogan

A debut at heavyweight for Olympic silver medallist Ken Egan will be the marquee event of this week's controversial Open Unseeded Elite Competition that gets under way tonight in the National Stadium.

As reported in Monday's Irish Independent, half a dozen of Ireland's biggest medal hopes for next year's London Games will not compete, thereby -- potentially -- ruling themselves out of the World Championships in Azerbaijan next month.

Those championships provide the first of only two Olympic qualifying opportunities for Ireland's elite boxers and the IABA has indicated that the team for the Worlds will be shaped by this week's box-offs.

This caused consternation among the boxers last week with mounting incredulity at the possibility of Ireland sending a team to Baku without men like current European champions Joe Ward and Ray Moylette, who would even be seeded in the draw.

Although Ward, Moylette, Paddy Barnes, John Joe Nevin, Willie McLoughlin and Darren O'Neill are named on the official entry list, all are carrying injuries and will not be competing. It is understood that they will present themselves with medical certificates at this morning's weigh-in.

Barring an IABA statement to the contrary, all thus remain on tenterhooks to see what team will be named for Baku.

Head coach Billy Walsh is due to take that team to a training camp in Italy on August 19 but, with the next Central Council meeting of the association not scheduled to take place until two days after that, a degree of confusion now reigns.



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