IABA urge Senior Elite caution and stress that the under-22s are “an excellent pathway now”

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IABA President Pat Ryan has urged the young rising stars in Irish boxing to not rush anything as the Tokyo Olympic cycle begins.

The first National Senior Elites since the RIo Games takes place in February, and there will understandably be many fighters wanting to stake their claim as the #1 on the island as the team transitions, but Ryan has suggested that younger fighters focus on a tournament one month beforehand.

The IABA President is hoping for a large and high-quality turn-out for the National Under 22 Championships, and has promised to put the tournament to the forefront. Ryan is hoping to develop the talents of the boxers, rather than needlessly throw them in the deep end early where they could be subject to physically stronger adult opponents and potentially demoralising defeats.

Ryan told Irish-Boxing.com that “the pathways, the categories, are there for a purpose, and we should utilise and maximise those pathways for the benefit of all boxers at those age groups.”

“The transition from juvenile into Youth, and then from Youth into Open Class Senior Elite boxing is huge, it’s massive. One year can make a hell of a difference and the fact that we have the championships [under 22s] coming up in January – and there will be international competition for them – means that it is an excellent pathway now, and an excellent category as a means of transition into Senior Elite Open Class boxing.”

The further promotion of the under 22 age class is a welcome move, especially at the start of the Olympic cycle. While it is certainly possible for fighters to go straight from winning a Youth or Senior Intermediate championships into the Senior Elites, there is no rush for many. This of course will be different in as Tokyo draws closer but, for now, the development of boxers via the under 22 age category and the return of international competition seems to be a logical move.

The only recent major tournament that Ireland had participated in of this kind was the seemingly one-off ‘European Olympic Hopes 19-22 Boxing Championships’ in Russia in 2012. Here Jason Quigley and Hughie Myers won gold and silver medals respectively.The other Irish boxers who featured at this tournament were Declan Geraghty, Mark O’Hara, Rohan Date, Thurles Moran, and Christy Joyce.

The National under 22s will take place in Dublin between the 13th and the 28th of January, while the Senior Elites run from February 3rd to 17th. The under 22s had previously been scheduled to take place this past October, but were moved to January. While it is not confirmed, some have speculated that this was in order to allow boxers time to focus on the Senior Intermediates last month whilst also forcing a choice between the 22s and the Elites which will now run in close succession.

Joe O'Neill

Reporting on Irish boxing the past five years. Work has appeared on irish-boxing.com, Boxing News, the42.ie, and local and national media. Provide live ringside updates, occasional interviews, and special features on the future of Irish boxing. email: joneill6@tcd.ie