The upcoming Elite Championships have been thrown into controversy following the withdrawal of SEVEN of the biggest names on the entry list.
With the full draw being published today it has become apparent that Kelly Harrington, Brendan Irvine, Kurt Walker, James McGivern, Gabriel Dossen, Michael Nevin, and Dean Gardiner have all withdrawn.
All seven have suffered injury in recent times but had entered the 2020 competition which begins at the National Stadium this coming Friday and ends next Friday [November 22nd] live on TG4.
The tournament had been built as a crucial week for Irish boxing, with spots on the team for the Olympic Qualifiers on the line – indeed, the championships had been brought forward from February 2020 to fit this timeline.
However, sadly, what was looking set to be the highest quality ‘Seniors’ in some time has now lost a lot of its shine.
Harrington is still not fully recovered from a thumb injury suffered in her European Games semi-final during the Summer, Dossen is on the mend following knee surgery, Irvine has had a spate of injuries over the past 18 months, Gardiner and McGivern both missed out on the recent World Championships, while Walker and Nevin’s issues are unknown.
Other changes to the initial list have seen lightweight champ David Oliver Joyce, who was due to step down to featherweight, withdraw, while Naoise Finney has moved up to heavyweight and claimed that title via walkover.
How the upcoming Elites will factor into selection for the World Championships remains to be seen.
The IABA clarified that champions are not automatically entitled to a spot on the plane but that boxers must enter the National Championships to be eligible for selection – which the withdrawn seven have done.
In the hours following the draw, there have been calls for the winners at flyweight, featherweight, light welterweight, and super heavyweight – along with lightweight walkover winner Broadhurst – to box off with the big names in January before the qualifiers. Then, perhaps, there could be some sort of tournament with Dossen, Nevin, and other in-form middleweights.
However, what the plan is, if any, remains to be seen – with behind-doors test spars having been used to determine selection for the World Championships.
Currently selection is completely in the hands of the High Performance Unit – with the IABA at large having a voice at the table but no actual voting power.
The selection situation has long been an issue, with a spectrum of views on how teams should be selected, and today’s news has caused an outpouring of condemnation.
— Kenneth Egan OLY (@kenegan30) November 13, 2019
A point just made to me: you’d wonder what TG4, who believe they’re showing the cream of Irish boxing in the upcoming tournament, make of it all
— Kevin Byrne (@KevByrneBox) November 13, 2019
Having ‘entered’ the Championships, all 6 are eligible for selection for Olympic qualifiers
High Performance Unit (Bernard Dunne, Zaur, and the other coaches) will be voting on who is selected
There will be a non-HPU person at the table but they don’t have a vote
War incoming pic.twitter.com/hkB5ePMuFN
— Joe O’Neill (@J0E_90) November 13, 2019
Disaster for the Elite Championships. https://t.co/FT2E9EW4gq
— Chris McNulty (@chrismcnulty86) November 13, 2019
The European Olympic qualifier takes place in London in March before a global last chance saloon in Paris in May.