Seconds Out: Boxing finally returns as the rest of 2021 opens


AFTER a wait that seemed destined to never end, amateur boxing finally returned last weekend when the elite Irish Championships kicked off at the National Stadium.

After being kept in a cold store when most other sports were given the green light to resume, boxing had to bide its time and make sure all protocols could be followed before a return to the ring was made. be granted.

Before Friday night, the last championships to be held in Ireland were the Ulster Elites in February 2020. Olympic team training was allowed to facilitate elite athletes, but club boxers of all grades of age had to wait, then wait again, amid a blur of uncertainty and indecision as indoor sport suffered greatly.

Some clubs have opened, closed and reopened when permitted. Others have not reopened at all. And what about the next generation of talent? Only time will tell what the impact has been over the past 18 months.

The debut of the Irish Elite was a welcome end to exile, although boxing as we know it is not quite back yet. The boxers were accompanied by two cormer staff – but only after passing an antigen test, medical exam and weigh-in.

No spectators were present this weekend, only those deemed essential being allowed. Thankfully, TG4 streamed every fight live on their YouTube channel for those who couldn’t make the familiar trek to South Circular Road.

More good news has also arrived, with the Irish Athletic Boxing Association (IABA) confirming that, as of yesterday, affiliate clubs that have successfully completed the Covid-19 ‘return to boxing’ process can commit to full contact indoor training.

After much discussion, the Ulster Boxing Council also unveiled a proposed fixture list for the coming months, with provincial action resuming in the weeks following the Irish Elites’ conclusion, which ends on Saturday 2 October.

The Ulster Intermediate / Senior Open and Novice Championships take place October 19-21, with County Antrim 12s B / G 1-7 Championships October 26-29. Both will take place at the Corpus Christi club in Belfast.

The Ulster 9 County B / G 123 Championships are scheduled to take place in Derry on November 6-7, 13-14 (if necessary), while the County Antrim Open Competition (open to all Ulster clubs) will be held in Belfast in from November. 22-26.

The highly anticipated Ulster Elite Championships, meanwhile, will hopefully offer Christmas cookies when the preliminary rounds take place December 7-10, with a final night slated for December 17.

They will take place in Belfast, with a venue yet to be confirmed – although the competition is a chance for 2022 Commonwealth Games hopefuls to work their way into the selection plan.

Meanwhile, upon returning to the ring after a four-year absence, 2012 Olympian Darren O’Neill edged Emerald’s promising Kane Tucker in a 3-2 split in their clash with the elites. Irish 86kg on Saturday – although Tucker temporarily switched to light weights. for competition.

There were mixed results for St John’s, Swatragh as Eoghan Quinn lost to former Irish champion Wayne Kelly, while super-heavyweight Patrick Rogers forced a first-round stoppage of Jack Divine from Springtown.

Eugene McKeever of Holy Family, Drogheda beat Northside’s Barry O’Connor in the quarterfinals.

Tyrone’s duo Jude Gallagher and Teo Alin also had some good wins on Friday night, with Gallagher of Newtownstewart beating Patryk Adamus on a 3-2 split and Alin beating Thomas McCann of St Paul’s at 60kg.

This weekend, Canal light fly Chloe Fleck takes on Shannon Sweeney of St Anne’s in the opener on Friday night, with Letterkenny’s Paddy McShane taking on Michael Stokes (St Michael’s, Athy) at 51kg.

In the final fight on Friday night, JP Hale, two-time Ulster Elite champion, faces Michael Stephens of Drimnagh. European Games bronze medalist Grainne Walsh returns to the ring after a 12-month injury when she faces Kaci Rock (Enniskerry) on Saturday.


Irish Elite Championship Semi-Finals

Friday (7 p.m.)

48kg Chloe Fleck (Canal) V Shannon Sweeney (St Annes)
48kg Ciara Walsh (Smithfield) V Carol Coughlan (Monkstown D 0
51kg Michael Stokes (St Michaels Athy) V Paddy McShane (Letterkenny)
54kg Niamh Faye (Ballyboughal) V Kirsten Cresham (Castlebar)
54kg Emma Flannery (Baldoyle) V Sara Hagighat-Jo (St Brigids Edenderry)
54kg Jake Rapple (Monkstown D) vs. Nathan Horrigan (Crumlin)
57kg Jude Gallagher (Two Castles) V Adam Hession (Monivea)
57kg Sean Purcell (Saviours Crystal) V Jordan Smith (Holy Family Drogheda)
60kg John Paul Hale (Star) V Michael Stephens (Drimnagh)
60kg Dominic Bradley (Emerald A) V Teo Allen (Cookstown)
67kg Michael Avetisian (Mulhuddart) V Eugene McKeever (Holy Family Drogheda)
75kg Gabriel Dossen (Olympic Galway) V Daniel O’Sullivan (Lucan)

Saturday (3 p.m.)

57kg Jennifer Lehan (DCU) vs Zara Breslin (Tramore)
57kg Kellie McLoughlin (Drimnagh) WITHOUT
63.5kg John O’Connell (Holy Trinity) vs. Brandon McCarthy (St Michaels Athy)
63.5 kg Nathan Richmond (Scorpion) V Jack McGivern (St Georges)
66kg Renee Roache (DCU) vs. Keisha Attewell (Tobar Pheadair)
66kg Kaci Rock (Enniskerry) WITHOUT
67kg Wayne Kelly (Ballynacargy) V Evan Fitzgerald (Esker)
71kg Emeka Onwuka (All Saints) V Luke Maguire (Esker)
71kg Kieran Molloy (Oughterard) V Jack Brady (Crumlin)
80 kg Tommy Hyde (St Michaels Athy) vs John Joe Nevin (Crumlin)
80kg Stewart Edwards (Crumlin) V Keelan Cassidy (Saviors Crystal)
86kg James Redmond (Ballybrack) vs. Faolain Rahill (DCU)
86kg Ighosa Igharo (Clann Naofa) vs Darren O’Neill (Paulstown)
92kg Marcin Skalski (Athlone) S / S
92kg Cathal Crowley (Spartan M) V Jack Marley (Monkstown D)
92 + kg Patrick Rogers (St Johns U) V Thomas Maughan (Cavan
92 + kg Martin Keenan (Rathkeale) V Samuel Ilesamni (St Mary’s)


Kurt Walker impressed en route to the last eight of the Tokyo Olympics. Photo by AP


Two-time Olympic medalist Paddy Barnes has urged the Irish Athletic Boxing Association (IABA) to do everything in their power to keep Kurt Walker an amateur until the Paris 2023 Games.

Earlier this month, Olympic gold medalist Kellie Harrington confirmed that she has decided to flee the pro ranks in order to stay in the vest, while Belfast welterweight Aidan Walsh – bronze medalist in Tokyo – has also indicated his intention to remain amateur for the foreseeable.

It remains to be seen what the future holds for Walker, however.

Canal’s counter-punch impressed during the Olympics, narrowly missing the medal stages when he was narrowly beaten by American Duke Ragan in the last eight, having previously beaten the world champion title and seed number one Mirazizbek Mirzakhalilov.

At 26, Walker has certainly caught the eye of professional promoters – despite being entered in the elite Irish Championships, and due to face European Under-22 silver medalist Adam Hession at the National Stadium last Saturday . However, the 2019 European Games gold medalist did not weigh in for the competition.

With the next Olympics just three years away and the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham next summer, Walker could still remain an amateur – and Barnes thinks the IABA should try to secure his services for Paris.

“I advise against Kurt going pro because I think he could be Olympic champion in three years. He is still young, if he wins an Olympic gold medal he could be accelerated if he wants to become pro at this. stadium, ”said the Beijing 2008 and London 2012 bronze medalists.

“It’s an important decision, I know that. But if he turns pro now, how many fights does he get per year? How much is he paid per year? If you go pro you have to pay for taxes, accommodation, travel if you are being coached outside of Ireland, and there aren’t many professional coaches in Ireland.

“That’s at all costs, where when you’re an amateur you get government funding, access to the best coaches – honestly the IABA should give him a contract all the way to Paris, like they did with me, with Katie Taylor, with Joe Ward. It is obvious.

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