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Fight Night: Irish boxing elite ready to defend crowns

Egan, Joyce, Nevin and Taylor all in action as the National Boxing Championships kick off this weekend.

Image: ©INPHO/James Crombie

KENNETH EGAN, JOHN JOE JOYCE, John Joe Nevin and Katie Taylor are all preparing to defend their titles as the National Elite  Senior Boxing Championships begin in Dublin this weekend.

Though Egan, Joyce and Nevin have all been kept busy in recent months by their participation in the World Series of Boxing, the next three weeks mark for them an important step on the road to the London Olympics in 2012.

Unusually, the winners of this year’s Men’s Championships will form part of the Irish squad which travels to Azerbaijan in September for the AIBA World Championships and Olympic qualifiers.

There is no such incentive for Taylor, however, as the 2012 AIBA World Championships have been designated as the only Olympic qualifier for female boxers.

Champion

Earlier this week, it emerged that Egan, who won Olympic silver in Beijing in 2008, has been battling alcoholism since his victory.

I could see myself in four or five years with the Olympics having slipped through my hands because of the gargle sitting in front of me.

The forthcoming Championships mark the 29-year-old’s attempt to retain his light-heavyweight crown for an 11th successive year. He will face a stiff challenge, however, not least from Joe Ward who is currently eyeing up his prospects as a senior.

Ward, 17, was crowned AIBA World Junior Champion as a light-middleweight in Armenia in 2009 before moving up to middleweight in 2010 to claim another World Junior title.

Should the Westmeath youngster upset the applecart and deny Egan a trip to Baku in September, the Clondalkin man will most likely have one more shot at the Olympics when the final qualifiers take place in Istanbul in April 2012.

Gavin Cooney
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Quality

Speaking recently, IABA Director of Boxing Dominic O’Rourke praised the quality of boxing which will be on show at this year’s Championships, with Taylor sure to be among the biggest attractions over the next three weeks.

There is quality in every weight division and I wouldn’t be surprised if there are a few shocks as the Championships unfold. Everyone knows what is at stake here.

The defending champions will be looking to retain their titles, but they will be facing stiff competition in every weight category. It promises to be a very exciting Championships.

This year’s Championships are scheduled to take place over the next three weekends with the finals taking place on Friday 25 February.

This evening’s card is pencilled in for a 7pm start at the National Stadium.

About the author:

Niall Kelly

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