European Under-22 Championships – FULL PREVIEW
The ten-strong Irish team are in Russia and ready to go at the European Under-22 Championships.
The tournament takes place in Vladikavkaz in the South West of the country, in the foothills of the Caucauses near Georgia.
The small Irish team landed yesterday with boxing due to begin in the fourth edition of the tournament this coming Friday [March 8th] with the finals set to take place next Sunday [March 17th, St Patrick’s Day]
Below Irish-Boxing.com profiles the 10 fighters that will represent the island as well as look at their potential competition.
Women’s Flyweight – 51kg
Kildare’s former World Junior silver medallist participated last year and returns with more strength and experience and ready to take on a wide-open field. There are 12 at the weight meaning the lilywhite is one or two wins from a medal and, if she can go further, finals day coincides with Earley’s birthday – what a story that would be.
Men’s Flyweight – 52kg
The Galway teen has had a sensational few months, with Intermediate and Under-22 titles being followed up by a maiden Elite Senior title last month. The Westerner has impressed those in the games over the past few months and will be making his major competition debut here. With 16 at the weight, Hession will need two wins to medal with Bulgaria’s Daniel Asenov the hot favourite having won gold at the last two editions as well as the Senior competition in 2017.
Women’s Featherweight – 57kg
The Dublin youngster didn’t get to fight in the all-Irelands in January, instead receiving a walkover. Experienced at underage level these will be her first fights at adult/U22 level. Italian Irma Testa is the star of the 13-strong field and the Rio Olympian will be defending the title she claimed last year.
Women’s Lightweight – 60kg
Defending champion and underage record-breaker Broadhurst is the women to beat here as she returns to her natural class having won a maiden Irish Elite title last month at 64kg. The southpaw will have a target on her back throughout from the other 16 entrants and Italian Rebecca Nicoli, who won gold at light welter last year, looks a threat.
Men’s Lightweight – 60kg
David Oliver Joyce
The Navan fighter wowed at the Elite Championships last month and gets some welcome international experience here. Unlucky to miss out on a medal in his last major, the 2017 Euro Youths, Joyce has the ability to get on the podium here. Despite its removal from the Olympic roster, 60kg remains a busy weight with 21 entrants including top Moldovan Dorin Bucsa, a bronze medallist last time out.
Women’s Light Welterweight – 64kg
The Crossmaglen fighter has moved into the adult ranks recently, winning Intermediate and U22 crowns as well as performing well against Broadhurst in the Elites. O’Callaghan is back in a major International tournament for the first time since Junior level in 2015 when she was denied European gold and a medal at the Worlds by Russian Ekaterina Dynnik – who is also a part of the 12-strong field here.
Men’s Light Welterweight – 64kg
The highly-touted Dub is in hot former and has a punch to be reckoned with as he also returns to majors for the first time since Junior level having had a frustrating time in the Youths. One of 25 entrants, there are threats everywhere from Welsh Commonwealth bronze medallist Michael McDonagh to former underage World Champions Tugrulhan Erdemir (Turkey) and Ivan Kozlovskiy (Russia).
Men’s Welterweight – 69kg
Our Lady of Lourdes
The Limerick southpaw participation is dependent on whether a nasty cut suffered in the third round of his epic Elite final versus Kieran Molloy last month heals. A packed weight with 27 entrants, Donovan will be hoping for a bye to the Last 16 to give him a little extra time to recover. If he can fight, the World Junior silver medallist is a big medal hope.
Silver medallist last year, O’Rourke was forced to pull out of her final with Busenaz Surmeneli due to injury. Over the last year the Turk has dropped down in weight and O’Rourke has improved rapidly and is also a medal hope here, likely only needing one win to guarantee bronze. England’s Georgia O’Connor and whoever Russia send looking like her most dangerous competition out of the 10-strong field.
Men’s Middleweight – 75kg
The male boxer of the tournament at the Elites last month, Dossen has major tournaments at adult level in the pipeline but has unfinished business here having agonisingly missed out on a medal last year. Dossen was beaten in the quarters by Georgia Giorgi Kharanadze and is joined in the field by the Eastern European again here along with 25 other rivals including Slovak EU champion Andrej Csemez.