by Michael O’Neill
Olympic Gold medallist Katie Taylor makes a welcome return to the ring, this weekend following the hand injury sustained whilst taking the 2014 AIBA 60kg World title in Jeju last November. On Friday 15th she ‘gloves off’ against Sweden’s Agnes Alexiusson at the Ballywaltrim Community Centre, Bray. Doors open at 7pm.
Taylor will be using that fight, and one the following night in the Listowel Community Centre in Co.Kerry, as the major part of her preparation for the inaugural European Games in Baku, Azerbaijan 12th to 26th June where once more she will face Europe’s best fighters at 60kg inc local champion Yana Alekseevna who took silver in Jeju.
There will be a ‘full supporting cast’ at the Ballywaltrim show including another Bray BC stalwart Garda Adam Nolan and other Irish male champions.
Insofar as the women’s bouts are concerned among those who will feature are Commonwealth Games silver medallist Michaela Walsh of the Holy Family Club in Belfast and Cavan BC’s Ceire Smith, both of whom will join Taylor on the Irish team in Baku.
Walsh was deemed most unlucky to lose that final bout against Olympic Champion Nicola Adams, in Glasgow and will be anxious to go one better in Baku.
So what do we know about Agnes Alexiusson, the highly rated Swede? She has taken the AIBA World and European titles in 2012 and 2014 at Youth and Junior level and has fought in Ireland already this year. She boxes out of the famous Värnamo Boxningsklubb in Jönköping County, – Värnamo’s population is just under 20,000.
The 19 years old Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games bronze medallist ,Alexiusson took silver at the 2015 Golden Girl (Elite) Box Cup tournament in Boras,Sweden where she lost her final battle against Mira Potkonen, the ‘Flying Finn’ who has fought Taylor on several occasions in International tournaments as well as in Dublin and in Bray.
She represents Sweden, depending on the event, at either 60kg or 64kg.. She is currently ranked no.2 in her home country behind Patricia Berghult.
Insofar as Taylor’s bout in Listowel on Saturday 16th is concerned, her opponent there is one Pernilla Gustavsson, (better known as ‘Nilla) who is the second ranked Swede at 64kg. She boxes out of the Ronneby club. She too has represented her country in major International competitions at Youth and Junior and more recently at Elite Senior level. Earlier this week she reached the semi-finals of the National championships.
The Swedish boxing association and their clubs have always enjoyed a good relationship with Irish their counterparts and no doubt on these two occasions also the visiting delegations will receive a very warm welcome in Counties Wicklow and Kerry.
There are still (at the time of writing) some tickets left for that show (which also features a full programme of male and female bouts). IF you have not already booked your tickets then be sure to do so without delay. Contact the Trojan boxing club’s Secretary, Maria Brosnan on (087) 7153060 . You can also find tickets at Con Dillon’s Bar in the town centre. Doors open from 7pm, boxing commences at 8pm.
Irish-Boxing.com wishes every success to all the boxers, their coaches and the clubs and of course to Katie Taylor as she sets out on the roads to Baku and Rio.