Monday 23 October 2017

Boxing: Taylor dream bid starts early

THE opening bell for the AIBA World Women's Championships has been brought forward 24-hours because of a record entry for the tournament in Qinhuangdao, China.

The championships will act as the only Olympic qualifier for female boxers, and will be contested across 10 weight categories. The International Boxing Association (AIBA) yesterday confirmed that the first session will now go ahead tomorrow evening following the weigh-in and draw.

The three Olympic weight categories for women are flyweight, lightweight and middleweight. It's expected that at least 60 boxers will compete in Katie Taylor's lightweight category, which could mean -- contingent on byes -- that Taylor will have to win five fights to retain her title.

The Bray woman is aiming for her fourth gold medal in a row in China and, of course, a place at the London Olympics.

Rugby

SHAUN EDWARDS has been appointed to the backroom team at London Irish, where he will work one day a week next season.

The former Ireland rugby league international, who is already the defence coach for Wales, will join up with the Exiles when he returns from the summer tour to Australia. He previously job-shared with London Wasps, but left his position at the Adams Park outfit after the 2011 World Cup.

Edwards will link up with new director of rugby Brian Smith -- a former Ireland international -- who is still on the lookout for a forwards coach. "London Irish have some fantastic players whom I am looking forward to working with," Edwards said.

Tennis

World No 2 Rafael Nadal dispatched former No 3 Nikolay Davydenko 6-2 6-2 to reach the third round of the Madrid Open yesterday before adding his voice to widespread criticism of the new blue clay courts.

Nadal's great rival Novak Djokovic slammed organisers of the Masters event and the ATP after his laboured second-round victory on Tuesday, saying the Manolo Santana show court at the futuristic Magic Box arena was too slippery and complaining that players' concerns were being ignored.

After seeing off Russian Davydenko, Nadal echoed these gripes and called for the familiar red clay to be reinstated next year. "The court is not one that makes you feel comfortable," said Nadal.

The French Open champion will now play compatriot Fernando Verdasco today.

Irish Independent

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