Brave Smith a step nearer Olympic qualification

With Katie Taylor preparing to glove up for her shot at Olympic qualification this morning (7am Irish time), flyweight Ceire Smith moved excitingly close to a place in the London Games by claiming a second victory at the Women’s World boxing championships in Quinhuangdao, China, yesterday.

The 19 year-old Cavan woman produced a strong counter-punching performance to outpoint Jamaican flyweight Sarah Joy Rae 12-4 for a place in the last 16 — just one fight away from a quarter-final position.

On Saturday she opened her campaign with a short route victory over Veglina Svetlana when the referee stopped the contest in the third round after she administered two standing counts to the luckless flyweight from Tajikistan.

Smith, who has had more senior contests outside of Ireland than inside her home country, went into the tournament under the radar and does not even have funding.

And, were it not for the efforts of her coaches, Zaur Antia, Billy Walsh, Pete Tayor and her coach at Cavan BC, Brian McKeown, she might not have been ready for China. She fractured her wrist at the training camp in Germany and only got the cast off 15 days before she left for the world championships.

Now coach McKeown feels that she just might sneak past the 35 year old Polish woman, Karolina Anna Michalzczk, tomorrow.

“She is doing very well, so far,” said McKeown who has had boxers in the last 12 world championships — most notably double world bronze medallist John Joe Nevin.

“But she has a tough fight ahead of her. She has boxed the Polish girl before so we know her. Last year sent we sent Ceire out to the European championships at 54 (kilos) because she was not senior champion at 51.

“She was very light out there and her preparation not as good as it has been for those championships. But, this time the Polish girl is coming down from 54 to 51. While she was strong at 54 the big question now is if she will be able to carry it down to 51 because she is tall, thin and has no body fat. When they met in the Europeans Ceire was light for the weight yet she took all her best shots when she went toe to toe at the end of the fight.

“I feel if she can win this one she has very good chance of qualifying for the Olympics. It’s not an easy one, her opponent is 35 but if she has weight problems that will be an issue.

“She is relatively inexperienced — the world championships in Barbados was only her second senior fight but she has come on a lot since then. We have to give a lot of credit to Billy (Walsh), Zaur and Pete (Taylor).

“When she fractured her wrist in Germany it ruled her out of the internationals against Holland in Dublin and Cavan so what she has done is even more remarkable.”

Tunisia’s world championships bronze medallist at 57 kg, Rim Jouini, also drops in weight to box Ireland’s three-time world champion, Katie Taylor, this morning. The African champion opened her campaign with a victory over Portugal’s Juliana Rocha who is studying criminology in the Porto University.

There was disappointment, however, for Ireland’s other representative when Drimnagh middleweight, Sinead Kavanagh, lost narrowly to Francelis Paez Carmona (Venezuela) 23-19.


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