The draw has been made for the men’s Elite World Championships which will take place over the next two weeks in Russia.
The seven-strong experimental Irish team now all know the identity of their opening round opponents in Yekateringburg.
Unlike the 2015 and 2017 editions, the tournament has reverted to open entry – meaning no qualification and a much larger field.
Therefore, all our boxers will start out at the Last 64 stage – bar European Games and EU Championships gold medallist Kurt Walker who has been given a bye to the Round of 32.
The tournament, which no longer acts as an Olympic qualifier due to AIBA’s various indiscretions, is now only contested at the eight weights that will be represented in Tokyo next year.
And so, Bray’s Regan Buckley has jumped up to flyweight and has been selected ahead of reigning champion Adam Hession. The recent European Games bronze medallist starts off against Indonesian opposition in Aldoms Suguro – the 2017 South East East Asian Games champion.
At featherweight, 1 kilo north of where he has been competing for almost his entire senior career, Lisburn’s Walker has an opening assignment of French newcomer Samuel Kistohurry or Colombian veteran Ceiber Ávila – a 2016 Olympian at flyweight and PanAmerican Games bronze and South American Games silver medallist.
Westmeath’s Wayne Kelly, in for the injured James McGivern, faces Michael Alexander from Trinidad and Tobago. The Caribbean boxer has been forced to step up from lightweight – where he won Commonwealth bronze in 2014 – and marked his arrival with bronze in the PanAmerican Games earlier this year.
Belfast slickster Aidan Walsh will stake his claim at welterweight and is up against Israeli Miroslav Kapuler. Kapuler was stopped in the opening round of the Euopean Games by Yauheni Dauhaliavets who would go on to edge Ireland’s champion Kieran Molloy.
Michael Nevin, continuing at middleweight while Gabriel Dossen recovers from knee surgery, takes on Moldovan Andrei Vreme – who was beaten by Dossen in the European Under-22s earlier this year.
Teen star Kane Tucker has been given the nod to step in and replace the pro-bound Joe Ward and the Banbridge youngster’s first senior major tournament fight will come versus Kyrgyz Erkin Adylbek Uulu. A star in the Central Asian nation, Adylbek carried the flag for Kyrgyzstan at the opening ceremony of the Rio Olympics – being eliminated in the first round – and won bronze in this year’s Asian Championships.
Finally, Dubliner Kirill Afanasev will get underway against inexprerienced Aussie Austin Aokuso.
Dates for the above fights will be confirmed shortly.