*Note: Please do not share or send the following article to the five Irish boxers currently out in Hamburg. The mantra of the team has always been ‘one fight, one round, one minute, one punch at a time,’ and the article here is intended for boxing fans.
The draw was made this afternoon in Hamburg, Germany for the Elite Men’s World Championships.
The five man will be in action in Round of 32 and Last 16 bouts over the coming days, however it is natural to tentatively look forward at what could be down the line.
Belfast flyweight Brendan Irvine has been seeded #6 and has received a bye to the Last 16. Here he will face either Kazakh Azamat Issakulov, a bronze medalist at the recent Asian Championships, or Korean Inkyu Kim, a silver medalist at the same championships. Both were defeated by Uzbek Jasurbek Latipov
Should the Wee Rooster navigate this challenge he will box for bronze against Japanese newcomer Ryusei Baba, beaten by Kim in the Asian quarters, Indian Kavinder Singh, eliminated in the Asian quarters by Latipov, or most likely Algerian #3 seed Mohammed Flissi. A World silver and bronze medalist as well as a two-time African Championships gold medal winner and African Games gold and silver medalist who holds a WSB win over Paddy Barnes, Flissi represents a massive test.
Lisburn bantamweight Kurt Walker faces Dominican #5 seed Leonel De Los Santos in his opening Round of 32 bout. The Caribbean fighter won gold at the recent American Championships, receiving a walkover from Cuban Javier Ibanez, whom he had recently beaten in the WSB, in the final. Boxing at flyweight, he was eliminated in the opening round of the Rio Olympics and also won another silver at the American Championships.
If he can pull off the win here, Walker will face either Asian bronze medalist Younghun Han or a third fight of the year with Raffaele Di Serrio in the last 16. Han was defeated by Uzbek Murodjon Akhmadaliev, whom Mick Conlan won World gold against, in the Asian semis, while Walker has traded a loss and a win with Di Serrio in the European U22s and European Elite quarter finals respectively.
A win here then would most likely set up a quarter final and bronze medal bout with England’s European champion Peter McGrail.
Belfast light welter Sean McComb is in against Brazilian Joedison De Jesus in the Round of 32. In his home Olympics last year he reached the second round and has also won Panamerican bronze.
A win here would see McComb face Cuban #2 seed Andy Cruz. The Caribbean fighter qualified for the Rio Olympics at bantamweight, but would outgrow the class and subsequently give countryman Robeisy Ramirez the opportunity to storm to a second gold. Cruz won gold at the recent American Championships, and also won gold at the tournament as a bantamweight in 2015, when he also topped the podium at the Panamerican Games.
Should he make the quarter finals, McComb’s potential opponents are Domincan #7 seed and American Championships silver medalist Elvis Rodriguez, Lithuanian Olympic bronze medalist and two-time European bronze medalist Evaldas Petrauskas, or Canadian two-time American Championships bronze medalist and Rio Olympian Arthur Biyarslanov.
Team captain Joe Ward is seeded #3 and straight into the light heavyweight Last 16. Here he will face Scot Sean Lazzerini, who he dominated in the recent Europeans, or Georgian Iago Kiziria. A win here will lead to a bronze medal match against Belarussian Mikhail Dauhaliavets, who Ward beat twice in 2015, Italian Valentino Manfredonia, who Ward beat in the semis of the recent Europeans, or Zambian Mbachi Kaonga who claimed African bronze this year.
If Ward makes it to the semi finals he will most likely be faced by Uzbek #2 seed and Asian champion Bektemir Melikuziev, who has moved up from middleweight where he won Olympic and World silver – beating Michael O’Reilly in the World Championships semi finals back in 2015.
Other potential opponents include Russian Muslim Gadzhimagomedov, who Ward beat in this year’s European final, and Kazakh Yerik Alzhanov, beaten by Melikuziev in the Asian final. This would then probably lead to the almost inevitable final against dominant Cuban superstar Julio Cesar La Cruz.
Finally at super heavyweight there is Dean Gardiner. The Tipperary man is a late addition to the squad following the withdrawal of English big man Fraser Clarke.
First up for Breakfast is Korean southpaw Dohyeon Kim in the Round of 32. A win here would set up a Last 16 bout with Colombian #2 seed and recent American silver medalist Cristian Salcedo.
If these challenges can be navigated, Gardiner would face a bronze medal bout with Moldovan Alexei Zavatin, who he beat in last year’s Olympic qualifiers, squat Argentinian Luis Calderon, or Cameroonian #5 seed Fokou Arsene who stormed to African gold earlier this year, knocking out all three of his opponents.