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Irish boxers react to rounds rule change

Yesterday afternoon the IABA confirmed that there has been a change at AIBA level with regards to the length of senior women’s bouts.

Up until now, women had boxed over four two-minute rounds, however, effective immediately, the length of bouts will switch to three three-minute rounds.

The change brings women’s boxing in line with the men’s side of the sport in this regard – with the men changing from 4×2 to 3×3 after the Beijing Olympics. spoke to some of the top female fighters on the island about the switch and the general feel is that it is a change for the good – although some noted the lack of notice given, especially for the Under-22 National Championships which start next weekend.

Donna Barr – Irish flyweight international
I think the change will take a while to adapt to strategically – and for the body to get conditioned to. It’s a different fight when it’s 3x3s. It’s going to be tough at the start but eventually it’ll just become like doing 4x2s. Hopefully it will suit me. With me being a back foot fighter it gives me more time to relax and set my attacks up without rushing into things.

Dervla Duffy – Irish bantamweight champion
I would definitely say I’m happy with it. I always thought everything should be equal on both sides so it will be interesting to see how all the females perform under the 3x3s. With my style of boxing I rather longer rounds and still keeping a high work rate. My training has been altered to suit the 3×3 mins, my coach Ger McDaid completely changed my programme that we had originally planned so I feel confident about the change and I’m really looking forward to the Seniors in February.

Moira McElligott – Irish featherweight champion
I don’t think it will change a lot for me. I’m quite happy with the 3 minute round introduction. Dom [O’Rourke, coach at St Michael’s Athy] had already anticipated that, and is used to training the men and his techniques would be same for me – so not much will change.

Cheyanne O’Neill – European Youth silver medalist (2014)
I know a lot will say it is just an extra minute, but it is quite a change. Us as females are conditioned both physically and mentally for 2 minutes because that’s what we have always done. I was in the gym the other night with the clock on 3 minutes and I looked straight over at 2 minutes gone – my head knew 2 minutes was up. I liked the 4 rounds of boxing but I think the change will suit me, we just have to pace ourselves I guess and condition for 3 minutes. It is a big change, especially on short notice for the Under-22s, but I think by the Elites we will be flying it. I think the Under-22s will go down to how fit you are.

Amy Broadhurst – European Youth silver (2014) and gold (2015)
Personally I’m not a big fan of the 3×3. I’m a very busy fighter so I think the 3×3 will be more about pacing yourself. I heard they’re trying to take the head guards off the women as well so they should apply the Olympic weights for the women too if they want us to go by the same rules as the men. It won’t make much difference to me anyway, but it’ll be a change for me, I’ve never done it before so it’ll take some getting use to.

Shauna O’Keefe – Irish lightweight international
I think it will really suit me being honest u have an engine that never stops and I’m looking forward to trying something different don’t get me wrong the four 2s suited me down to the ground that extra round really does make a difference but I time the rounds properly everything will be perfect

Kelly Harrington – World Championships silver medalist (2016)
The rule change is good, and hopefully they put in the extra women’s weights to the Olympics now and don’t let another four years pass with just three Olympic weights.

Alanna Audley-Murphy – Commonwealth Games bronze medalist (2014)
I’m happy with the change. Since the boys changed a good few years back to 3x3s we have always trained 3x3s with them. I prefer it and I feel like having a minute longer in each round will suit me better. The pacing is a lot different in a 3 minute round. 2 minute rounds are over too quick for me so I’m happy that it’s been changed

Gráinne Walsh – Irish welterweight international
I am more surprised than anything to be honest about this whole rule change. We weren’t given much notice about it. We are exactly four weeks out from competition [Senior Elites] and now we are told me have to box 3×3 rounds instead of 4x2s. I think that’s a bit unfair on the female boxers – but everyone is in the same boat so we all need to adjust to it over a short period of time.
It’s going to be hard work from here on in trying to adjust my training and stamina to suit the longer rounds but I’ve no choice but to get used to it now. After a few months and competitions, people will get used to it and it will be more suited to a lot of people. I think it will suit my style of boxing, and it’s a new challenge to overcome. I just need to make sure I have a very high level of fitness to be able to last the rounds at a high tempo. It’s good to experience and face new obstacles and be able to adjust to anything that’s put in your way. So I’m excited to see how it goes.

Liam Brereton – Coach, St Brigid’s Edenderry
I personally like the 4×2 for the girls. The problem with it was that a lot of fights were going to countback because of fights ending two rounds a-piece. I think, with the new rule of all five judges being used, four rounds is better. But it’s 3×3 now so we have to prepare for that. Boxers are very adaptable so they will adjust quickly. I don’t know if it will make for better fights, I will sit, watch, and reserve judgment for a later date.

Joe O'Neill

Reporting on Irish boxing the past five years. Work has appeared on, Boxing News,, and local and national media. Provide live ringside updates, occasional interviews, and special features on the future of Irish boxing. email: