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Fight night

13 titles on the line -- and Katie's first fight as Olympic champ -- on National Finals night

Katie Taylor, Michael Conlan and Adam Nolan are all in action at the National Elite Boxing Championships tonight.

ON A NIGHT when Irish boxing’s elite do battle for 13 national titles, it is a four-round non-title fight that is likely to steal the show.

London 2012 gold medallist Katie Taylor returns to the ring tonight for her first fight as Olympic champion, two days before she headlines a sold-out promotion in Dublin.

With no opponent willing to take on Taylor in the women’s lightweight division, the undisputed world number one meets Karolina Graczyk of Poland as part of a 14-bout card in the National Stadium, Dublin.

The two have met twice before with Graczyk, a six-time national champion herself, losing on both occasions. Most notably Taylor had the measure of her opponent on home turf in the Polish city of Katowice when she beat her 25-9 in the 2011 European Union final.

Before that, fight fans will be licking their lips at another showdown between champion Joe Ward and the legend he toppled in the light-heavyweight division, Beijing silver medallist Ken Egan.

After denying Egan a record-breaking 11th straight national title in the 2011 final, 19-year-old Ward came of age last year with a show-stopping defence against the Dubliner, ending Egan’s shot at another Olympic medal in a 29-10 thrashing.

The youngster from Moate, County Westmeath, was rightly heralded as one of Ireland’s rising stars but the journey since then has been anything but smooth. Ward too was denied of a place in London when he was controversially beaten in the final Olympic qualifier, and after deciding to remain on as an amateur, he joined the World Series of Boxing this season.

Elsewhere the star attractions on the card will be Olympic bronze medallist Michael Conlan and his London team-mate Adam Nolan who bid to defend their respective flyweight and welterweight titles.

Conlan, another WSB debutant this season, showed his class in a bad-tempered semi-final against Ruairi Dalton last week to set up a rematch of the 2012 final against Chris Phelan from Ryston BC.

Nolan will be hoping to make it a hat-trick of senior crowns but to do so the man from Bray BC will have to beat another former national champion, Willie McLaughlin.

The withdrawal of Olympic pair Paddy Barnes and John Joe Nevin due to illness and injury leaves vacant titles up for grabs in the light-flyweight and bantamweight divisions. Last year’s beaten 49kg finalist Hugh Myres of Ryston can go one better with a win against TJ Waite, while former Elite champion Declan Geraghty meets Gary McKenna in the 56kg decider.

Light-welterweight champion Ross Hickey will have to be at his best to deny the reigning European champion Ray Moylette in the 64kg division while another of the sport’s rising stars, European U23 gold medallist Jason Quigley, meets three-time national champion and former European Union champion Roy Sheehan in a middleweight clash that needs no hyping.

Boxing begins at 7pm this evening. RTÉ 2 will broadcast action from 9.45pm.

National Elite Boxing Championships — Finals

  • 49kg: Hugh Myres (Ryston) v TJ Waite (Cairn Lodge)
  • W 57kg: Michaela Walsh (Holy Family) v Joanna Lambe (Carrickmacross)
  • 52kg: Michael Conlan (St John Bosco) v Chris Phelan (Ryston)
  • 64kg: Ross Hickey (Grangecon) v Ray Moylette (St Anne’s)
  • 56kg: Declan Geraghty (Crumlin) v Gary McKenna (Old School)
  • 60kg: Sean McComb (Holy Trinity) v George Bates (St Mary’s)
  • 75kg: Jason Quigley (Finn Valley) v Roy Sheehan (St Michael’s Athy)
  • 91kg: Tommy McCarthy (Oliver Plunkett) v Jimmy Sweeney (Drimnagh)
  • 81kg: Joe Ward (Moate) v Ken Egan (Neilstown)
  • W 60kg additional bout: Katie Taylor (Ireland) v Karolina Graczyk (Poland)
  • 69kg: Adam Nolan (Bray) v Willie McLaughlin (Illies GG)
  • W 54kg: Michelle Lynch (Golden Gloves) v Dervla Duffy (Ryston)
  • W 64kg: Sarah Close (Holy Family) v Kelly Harrington (Corinthians)
  • 91+kg: Sean Turner (Drimnagh) v Niall Kennedy (Gorey)

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