‘Worlds’ team to be named today

THE Boxing Council of the IABA will meet at 11am today to select a team for the World Championships while the boxers settle into their training camp in Assisi alongside Olympic hopefuls from Italy, Ukraine and Azerbaijan.

When the members of the Boxing Council meet this morning they will be presented with a recommendation that the winners of last week’s box-off be selected for next month’s World Championships in Azerbaijan by the officer board. However they will also review recommendations from High Performance Coach, Billy Walsh.

There are 16 Irish boxers at the training camp in Assisi, including the three-time women’s world champion Katie Taylor whose Bray clubmate Adam Nolan was added to make up a total of three welterweights.

Nolan, the reigning national champion, was beaten by Roy Sheahan (St Michael’s, Athy) in the box-off final but was subsequently named alongside Sheahan and Willie McLaughlin (Illies GG) who missed the event through injury.

Sheahan’s performances in the Stadium last week will make him favourite for the welterweight spot but there is speculation surrounding some of the other contenders.

John Joe Nevin (Cavan), a world bronze medallist two years ago, turned up with a damaged wrist and could not box but will be go forward for the bantamweight spot alongside the former featherweight champion, Tyrone McCullagh (Holy Family GG). McCullagh won the box-off but lost 5-2 to the Mullingar man in the finals of the national championships.

Three-time Irish senior middleweight champion Darren O’Neill (Paulstown) finds himself in a similar situation. O’Neill, a European silver medallist last year, also missed the box-off and faces a challenge for selection from former European youths champion, Jason Quigley (Finn Valley).

Joe Ward (Moate), one of the two reigning European champions in line for selection, will not be opposed following the withdrawal of Davy Joe Joyce (Ballynacargy). He missed the box-off through injury and so, too, did the other European champion, Ray Moylette (St Anne’s, Westport).

Moylette faces a different situation because national champion Ross Hickey (Grangecon), was impressive beating Stephen Carroll (Drimnagh) 23-6 in the semi-final and Sonny Upton (Holy Family) 19-12 in the final. Moylette, however, was the outstanding performer at the European Championships.

Paddy Barnes (Holy Family GG) has no opposition and the Olympic silver medallist — last year’s Commonwealth and European champion — has not thrown a punch in anger since injury ruled him out of his defence of the light flyweight title at this year’s European championships.

“I have felt ready for a few weeks and I am dead keen to hit the bags and get some serious sparring,” Barnes said. “I feel strong but I will be stronger and fitter before the World Championships.”

Meanwhile the 37 visiting teams have begun to arrive in Dublin for the European Youth Championships which will be hosted by the IABA at the City West Conference Centre all next week.

The VIP list will include the president of AIBA, the world governing body, Dr Ching-Kuo Wu, who said he was looking forward to the event.

“With a record 38 countries participating, this championship clearly demonstrates the bright future of our sport and proves that boxing is continually attracting more and more youth,” he said. “The boxers we will enjoy watching in Dublin will surely be the top elite boxers of tomorrow leading to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.”

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