The Americans have arrived with a strong team and Ireland, in response, will parade nine of the newly-crowned national senior champions for the first leg of back-to-back internationals at the National Stadium, and then in Athy on Sunday night.
Missing from tonight’s bill will be lightweight Eric Donovan who reclaimed the national senior title from Ross Hickey last weekend. Donovan has been held over for Sunday night when his club, St. Michael’s, host the Americans in Athy.
The only other missing champion is the Moate super heavyweight, David Joyce, who was handed the title last Friday night when his younger brother, 18-year-old Joe, conceded. David has withdrawn and is replaced by Donegal man Anthony Crampton.
Egan has just had two contests since the Beijing Olympics and might prefer another before tonight’s engagement with Shabazz, a 6’2” former Golden Gloves champion from Las Cruces, New Mexico.
There are a couple of world champions and three Olympians in the American squad.
Newly-crowned flyweight champion, Declan Geraghty (Dublin Docklands), faces a baptism of fire for his first senior international .
when he will touch gloves with the world flyweight champion, Rau’see Warren.
Con Sheehan also faces a big assignment against Paul Koon, a promising heavyweight from Philadelphia.
Olympic light flyweight bronze medallist Paddy Barnes will be having his first major assignment since Beijing when he climbs in against the Americans, while John Joe Nevin is another of Ireland’s Olympians who will be in action.
A gold medallist at the Olympic qualifiers last year, Nevin faces fellow Olympian Ernie Graza on tonight’s bill.
The other American Olympian, Raynall Williams, is a talented southpaw and will provide Belfast featherweight, Carl Frampton, with a stern test. Frampton created another upset last weekend when he inflicted a rare defeat on David Oliver Joyce.
Katie Taylor will box in both the Dublin and Athy matches. The double world and European lightweight champion will meet Queen Underwood.
Both David Oliver Joyce and his cousin, European bronze medallist and Olympian, John Joe Joyce, suffered their first ever defeats at the National Stadium last Friday.
Both make a quick return, however, when they box on the Athy bill.
Welterweight Roy Sheahan will also put his semi-final defeat behind him to take his place on the Irish team in his home town while one of Ireland’s world youth heroes from last year, bronze medallist David Joyce, will also be in action.