Ireland has three boxers in action as we reach the ‘business end’ of the 2014 Women’s European Elite Championships in Bucharest this afternoon.
Olympic champion Katie Taylor, Michaela Walsh from the Holy Family GG in Belfast and Carrickmacross boxer Joanne Lambe will all be in quarter-final action between 1:15pm and 2:30pm (Irish time) at the Polyvalent Arena in the Romanian capital.
The Irish trio will be hoping to join Callan BC’s Clare Grace in the semi-finals on Friday and guarantee themselves at least bronze.
Thursday is a rest day at the tournament. The semi-finals and finals will be decided on Friday and Saturday.
Michaela Walsh faces an exceptionally tough task against World no 5, Elena Saveleva from the powerhouse Russian team but Walsh has already excelled this week and will most assuredly be up for this one.
Who knows perhaps as a result of her successes to date in Bucharest the Irish Sports Council/IABA and private sponsors may yet come to her rescue with future funding to enable her to reach the next stages on a potential ‘Road to Rio’.
Walsh celebrates her 21st Birthday on Thursday and has done marvels this year bearing in mind she has no personal funding from the Irish Sports Council , from the IABA or from private sponsors at this time and as she is participating in boxing full time, does not have time for a career outside the sport. Such is her desire to progress in the noble art.
Monaghan’s Joanne Lambe also faces a stiff task when she meets AIBA world no 4 Svetlana Staneva from Bulgaria but Joanne had a fine win Tuesday against Croatian champion Marija Petric and will be hoping to improve upon that form against the Bulgarian. The Carrickmacross fighter has also shown she is capable of ‘mixing it’ with the best in Europe and she knows she will need to improve even further if she is to stop the Bulgarian today.
Intriguingly, Olympic champion Katie Taylor is up against a young former Cork resident, 18 years old Lavinia Ioana Mera, once of Mitchelstown but now back in her home country and representing the host nation here.
The young Romanian told ‘The Irish Times’:
“I feel honoured to box with her,” says Mera.
“In my eyes she is a great champion and she’s a brilliant girl as well as a character and outside the ring a girl I really admire. It will be a big pleasure for me to box against her because I see the way she boxes and I appreciate her for what she is.”
Mera enjoyed her early years in Munster and was a County and Munster Junior champion.
“Actually, I started boxing in Ireland,” she says. “I’m a county champion in the juniors. I was in Mitchelstown in Cork, where my parents lived. My father worked as a butcher and my mother looked after the children. My brother is a citizen of Ireland. He got residency and lives in Dublin, Dún Laoghaire. We have quite a past in Ireland alright. When I was boxing there everyone was telling me you should get up to box like Katie to be like her.”
“The truth is she is the best,” says Mera. “That’s definite and you can see it clearly from a distance. I cannot say that I am better than her. No. Right now she is the best. But we’ll see. I’ll box with her. I’ll give it my best and we’ll see afterwards if she is still the best or not. Right now, though, she’s the best.”
It would send shockwaves throughout the AIBA World if the Romanian were to win today but as per her normal style Taylor will be treating her opponent with the same respect she would if it were Ochigava, Jonas or Chorieva but most assuredly Taylor will want to win her 21st consecutive European bout and progress to a semi-final where she may come up against Poland’s 2 times AIBA World Champion, Karolina Michalczuk on Friday. The Pole has moved up to the 60kg class this year.
Kilkenny’s Clare Grace is already through to Friday’s 69kg semi-finals where she will meet England’s Stacey Copeland.More news here on SportsNewsIreland later.
European Women’s Championships Bucharest, Romania.
June 1st (Last 32 and last 16)
54kg Michaela Walsh (Ireland) beat Helina Bruyevigh (Belarus) (last 32) 3-0
60kg Katie Taylor (Ireland) beat Sandra Brugger (Switzerland) (last 16) 3-0
2nd June Last 8 (1/4 final)
69kg Clare Grace (Ireland) beat Guluzar Kara (Turkey) 2-0
3rd June (Last 16)
51kg Ceire Smith (Ireland) lost to Nur Caskun (Turkey) 1-2
54kg Michaela Walsh (Ireland) beat Ivanna Krupenia (Ukraine) 2-1
57kg Joanne Lambe (Ireland) beat Marija Petric (Croatia) 3-0
June 4th (Q/Finals)
54kg Michaela Walsh (Ireland) v Elena Saveleva (Russia)
57kg Joanna Lambe (Ireland) v Svetlana Staneva (Bulgaria)
60kg Katie Taylor (Ireland) v Lavinia Ioana Mera (Romania)
June 6th (S/Final)
69kg Clare Grace (Ireland) v Stacey Copeland (England)