German coach promises Walker a tough battle

Ireland’s Kurt Walker will have to battle Berlin featherweight Hamsat Shadolov down to the final bell at the European qualifiers for Tokyo 2020 in London today, according to Germany’s Wexford-born head coach Eddie Bolger.

German coach promises Walker a tough battle

Ireland’s Kurt Walker will have to battle Berlin featherweight Hamsat Shadolov down to the final bell at the European qualifiers for Tokyo 2020 in London today, according to Germany’s Wexford-born head coach Eddie Bolger.

Walker meets the Chechyna-born German fighter over three, three-minute rounds at the Copperbox Arena with a place at the Tokyo 2020 Games on the line.

Rio 2016 Olympian Brendan Irvine also fights for a Tokyo 2020 ticket today against Hungarian flyweight Istavan Szaka.

Current European Elite champion Walker, the No.2 seed, and Irvine need to finish in the top eight (reach the quarter-finals) to qualify. The Belfast pair received byes into today’s last 16 bouts.

“There’s a place at the Olympics on the line, and he (Shadolov) is going to give it his all, said Bolger, a former Irish coach.

“Hamsat has a good few scalps on his card. Kurt is a big featherweight and his record over the last eighteen months is second to none.

“To get to Tokyo we’re going to have to cause a few upsets. That’s what it’s all about,” added Bolger who has worked Walker’s corner with Ireland.

Meanwhile, Emmet Brennan got Ireland off to a winning start in London after recording an inside the distance win yesterday.

The Dublin light-heavy stopped Radenko Tomic of Bosnia & Herzegovina. Brennan took the first round but opened up in the second with the ref waving it off after Tomic took a standing count.

“I stuck to instructions, and it just went a little bit better than we thought. John (Irish coach John Conlan) came up with a game plan. It was executed well.”

Brennan faces Switzerland’s Uke Smajli next on St Patrick’s Day. “We’ll come up with a game plan over the next day and the same thing, we’ll just try to execute it,” he added. “The plan is to go all the way; you don’t come here without planning on that.”

Dublin light-welter George Bates progressed on points to the last 16 after his fight with Spain’s Leon Dominguez was stopped late in the first round after the Spaniard picked up a facial cut following a clash of heads last night.

But Cork welter Christina Desmond bowed out in the second fight of the evening session.

The Irish Elite champion lost on a unanimous decision to Italy’s Angela Carina, the No.3 seed, following a close all southpaw three-rounder.

Desmond slightly staggered her opponent with a sweeping left in the first round, but the Rome native, the 2019 World Elite light-welter finalist, worked hard throughout an open and clean bout.

Meanwhile, Antrim duo Aidan Walsh and Carly McNaul and Laois’ Michael Nevin are between the ropes in the last 16 and 32 this afternoon and evening.

McNaul, who requires a top 6 placing to qualify, faces English flyweight Charley Davison in the last 16.

The 43-nation tournament began with a seismic shock on Saturday after Belgium’s former WBC World champion Delfine Persoon, who has regraded to the amateur code, crashed out in the last 32 to unheralded Greek puncher Nikoleta Pita in the lightweight class.

Pita earned a 4-1 split decision against the Flanders police officer who was controversially beaten by Katie Taylor in an IBF/WBA/WBC/WBO unifier at Madison Square Garden last summer.

A total of 77 Olympic places - 50 for men and 27 for women - are up for grabs at the London qualifiers which were given the green light to go ahead despite numerous sports fixtures in the UK being cancelled because of the Coronavirus.

A final world qualifier is scheduled for Paris in May, but this tournament may be pushed back to June after the Americas qualifiers slated for Buenos Aires later this month were shelved because of the Coronavirus.

Ireland’s Kurt Walker will have to battle Berlin featherweight Hamsat Shadolov down to the final bell at the European qualifiers for Tokyo 2020 in London today, according to Germany’s Wexford-born head coach Eddie Bolger.

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