THE draw did Irish boxers few favours at the world boxing championships in Milan and this was reflected on the first day of competition when they met with mixed fortunes.
Declan Geraghty got the Irish challenge off to the perfect start when he outpointed Mango Plange (Ghana) 12-5 in yesterday morning’s opener as 3 x 3 minute rounds were introduced for the first time since the 1996 Olympics alongside the new, revolutionary transparent scoring system.
The latter innovation meant that the Dublin Docklands flyweight could see that he had won all the rounds en route to what was a clearcut victory – taking the first 3-2, the second 5-2 and the third 4-1 to highlight his fitness and finishing power. He now meets Mumin Veli (Macedonia) who defeated Julio Bria (Indonesia) 19-9 in their contest.
Philip Sutcliffe failed to get through the preliminary stage of the tournament when he lost 12-5 to Romanian light welterweight Tralan Lupu.
Sutcliffe, who boxes out of the Crumlin club in Dublin and whose father, also Philip, is a former European bronze medallist, was 2-0 down two minutes into the bout but drew level at 2-2 at the end of the opening round. However, Lupu, who beat Irish 2008 Olympian John Joe Joyce in Turkey earlier this year, was 7-5 ahead at the end of the second and added another five points to his total before the final bell.
Last night super heavyweight, Cathal McMonagle, lost out to Thomas Markovic (Croatia), 14-5.
This morning will see one of Ireland’s brightest prospects go into action when John Joe Nevin takes on a nifty bantamweight from Azerbaijan, Ramir Najafov, in what promises to be an exciting contest.
The 22-year-old Mullingar man who boxes out of the Cavan club was still battling it through the under-age ranks in the lead up to the last world championships in Chicago two years ago. But he came out the following January to win his first national senior title and a place in the Irish team for the Olympic qualifier in Pescara where he not only qualified for Beijing but went on to win gold.
If he comes through today’s assignment he will face either Nikola Magovac (Serbia) or, more likely, Omurbek Malubekov (Kazakhstan) on Friday for a place in the last 16.
Also in action today will be middleweight, Darren O’Neill. The 23-year-old Paulstown southpaw finally emerged from the shadow of Olympic bronze medallist, Darren Sutherland, to claim his first national senior title this year.
Today he meets Ranjan Shilpakar (Nepal) and a win will earn him a clash with either Stipicu Brekalo (Croatia) or Faria Aghayev (Azerbaijan) on Saturday for a place in the business end of the tournament.
Tonight lightweight, Eric Donovan (St. Michael’s, Athy), gets his shot against Bakhodir Karimev (Tajikistan). The Athy southpaw had found Ross Hickey a handful in recent times but he came through from the qualifying tournament to claim his place in the team and a place in the last 32 against either Jai Bhagwan (India) or Angel Rodriguez (Venezuela) on Friday awaits the winner.
Tomorrow morning will see Willie McLaughlin (Illies, Donegal) in action against Come Ndyshmiye while, in the afternoon, featherweight David Oliver Joyce (St. Michael’s, Athy) returns to top flight boxing to challenge Wuttichai Masulk (Thailand).
Olympic bronze medallist, Paddy Barnes, has a Kenyan opponent for his opener on Saturday. An unlikely quarter finalist in Chicago two years ago, the diminutive Belfast man, was the first Irish boxer to gain Olympic qualification and then became the first to win a medal in Beijing last year.
His opponent on Saturday is something of an unknown quantity, Peter Ungai, but some years ago the legendary Olympic athlete, Kip Keino, took over training of the boxers and the programme has produced some gangly and difficult exponents.
Thanks to a first round bye, Ireland’s Olympic silver medallist, Kenny Egan, won’t be in action until Sunday when he will get his campaign under way against Mohammad Quadir Sutani from Afghanistan. The winner of that contest will go in against either Hrvoije Sep (Croatia), Siarhei Karneyeu (Belarus), Botti Bileandro (Virgin Islands) or Jeyusson Monroy Varela (Colombia) who must sort out the preliminaries before Monday.
Clonmel heavyweight, Con Sheehan, faces a task of titanic proportions when he meets the Cuban, Osmai Acosto Duarte, for a place in the last 16 on Sunday also. The Cuban heavyweight is part of the Cuban rebuilding programme and will go into those championships as hot favourite for a medal but that won’t bother the 20-year-old Clonmel man unduly.
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