This fight has the potential to steal the spotlight away from Katie Taylor v O’Keefe

Katie Taylor and Shauna O’Keefe’s Irish lightweight title fight set for the National Stadium tonight has captured the imagination of the national media and rightly so.

The world’s greatest female fighter has the opportunity to win an Irish title in the ring for the first time. The trail blazing Olympic champ and World number 1 fights on a nine fight finals night, 14 years after she got the ball rolling when she fought Alanna Audley-Murphy in the first officially IABA-sanctioned women’s bout in Ireland.

It is a great moment in Irish sport and women’s sport in particular.

However, there is decider further down the weights that has the potential to steal the show. Ceire Smith versus Michaela Walsh is a mouthwatering affair.

Smith, who stunned current World Elite champion Marlen Esparza (USA) on a split decision in the Feliks Stamm Memorial in Warsaw this year, meets 2014 Commonwealth Games silver medallist Walsh in Friday’s flyweight final.

“I’m going for my sixth title and I’m training full time. I’m hoping it will go my way. Everyone is talking about it being the fight of the Championships. It’s all or nothing and hopefully I’m on the plane for the qualifiers,” said Smith.

Walsh has dropped down from bantam, the weight she won an Elite title at last January, to flyweight as the 52kg class is one of the three Olympic weights for women, along with lightweight and middleweight.

Eight women’s finals will be decided on Friday, with European Elite bronze medallist Clare Grace meeting Grainne Walsh in the welterweight decider. Lauren Hogan gets proceedings underway versus Donna Barr, and Dervla Duffy clashes with Elaine Harrison over four, two minute rounds.

Joanne Lambe is in against Moira McElligott and Kelly Harrington and Diana Campbell meet Cheyanne O’Neill and Maeve McCarron.

The Men’s Elite Championships resume this Saturday evening.

The IABA are running the National Elites twice this year to assist Ireland’s boxers heading into the Olympic qualifiers in 2016. The first European qualifier for AIBA Open Boxing (AOB), now the official name for amateur boxing, for Rio 2016 for women (and men) will be in Istanbul, Turkey next April.

So far, Ireland has qualified three boxers – Paddy Barnes, Michael Conlan, and Joe Ward – for the 31st Olympiad in Rio.

Ten further places will be available for Ireland’s male and female boxers in 2016, with the journey beginning this Friday at the QuickPark Women’s Elite finals at the National Stadium in Dublin.
Elite National Women’s Championships National Stadium Dublin

November 27th (7.30pm

48kg *Lauren Hogan (St Brigids Edenderry) V Donna Barr (Twin Towns)
51kg Michaela Walsh (Holy Family GG) V *Ceire Smith (Cavan)
54kg Dervla Duffy (St Brigids Kildare) V Elaine Harrison (Ardnaree)
57kg Joanne Lambe (Carrickmacross) V Moira McElligott (Rathkeale)
60kg Katie Taylor (Bray) V Shauna O’Keeffe (Clonmel)
64kg *Kelly Harrington (Glasnevin) V Cheyanne O’Neill (Athlone)
69kg Clare Grace (Callan) V Grainne Walsh (Sparticus)
75kg Christina Desmond (Fr Horgans) W/O
81+kg *Diana Cambell (Garda) V Maeve McCarron (Carrigart)

(*denotes defending champions)
Women’s Elite Finals 2015

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