If Ireland are to bring any medals home from the inaugural European Games in Azerbaijan then they will have to do it the hard way after being handed a very tough draw. Boxing begins tomorrow in Baku’s Crystal Hall where three Irishmen get their campaigns underway
First through the ropes is Limerick flyweight Myles Casey who makes his international debut against Ivan Fihurenka of Belarus in what will be the first ever bout at the European Games (08:30 Irish time).
Then at 10:30 Irish time, Kilkenny heavyweight Darren O’Neill will step through the ropes against Romania’s Ionut Jitaru. Irish fans may remain Jitaru as the man Gary Sweeney beat in his WSB debut last February.
In Tuesday’s afternoon session (14:30 Irish time), Kurt Walker faces a tough opening bout against Russia’s Bakhtovar Nazirov. Nazirov holds a narrow win over Walker from back in 2012 and the Ulster bantamweight will be hoping for revenge in Baku.
Wexford welterweight Adam Nolan gets the Irish underway on Wednesday morning (9:45 Irish time) against Albania’s Alban Beqiri.
Then in the afternoon (16:45 Irish time), Portlaoise middleweight Michael O’Reilly faces off against Pol Sanjin Vrgoč of Croatia.
On Thursday morning (08:30 Irish time), Belfast’s Sean McComb begins his campaign against Tymur Beliak of the Ukraine in the lightweight division
On Friday morning (10:15 Irish time), light flyweight Brendan Irvine has a Last 16 bout against Tinko Banabakov of Bulgaria – a bronze medalist at the 2013 World Combat Games.
Later that day, Cavan flyweight Ceire Smith will be Ireland’s first female in the ring when she faces Camilla Johansen of Norway in the Round of 16 (14:15 Irish time).
On Saturday morning (08:30 Irish time), Belfast bantamweight Michaela Walsh begins her assault on the medals with a Last 16 bout against Elena Saveleva of Russia – herself a three time world championships medalist.
After receiving a bye to the Last 16, Tipperary super heavy Dean Gardiner will climb through the ropes on Saturday evening (17:15 Irish time) to face Guido Vianello of Italy. Gardiner will be gunning for revenge as Vianello was the man who defeated him in the quarter finals of last years European Union Championships – thus denying him a first major international medal.
Katie Taylor finally steps into the ring on Sunday (14:30 Irish time) where she faces Denica Eliseeva of Bulgaria. Eliseeva contraversially inflicted a rare defeat on Taylor back in 2011 and, while Taylor has since avenged this multiple times, the Bray lightweight will be looking to do so once again in Baku.
On Sunday afternoon (15:15 Irish time), Wexford’s Dean Walsh begins his campaign having received a bye to the Last 16. Here he will face either Maxim Dadashev of Russia or Kazimierz Kegowski of Poland in the light welterweight division.
Stay tuned to irish-boxing.com for all the results and reports of the Irish in action over the next