Preview of Olympic Boxing Qualification in Baku

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Updated: September 9, 2011

Ireland’s leading Amateur boxers leave Dublin on Sunday for a pre-World championships training camp in Germany where they will spar with champion amateurs from Germany, Holland, Moldova and Romania . The week long camp is part of the team’s final preparation for the forthcoming World

Championships in Baku,Azerbaijan which will also serve as the first Qualifier for the 2012 Olympic Games so much is stake for the boxers and for the Irish team management.

At this week’s media conference at Dublin’s National Stadium there was an air of ‘quiet confidence’ from boxers and management alike.

I.A.B.A President , Tommy Murphy is confident that the ten man Irish squad have the necessary ‘ talent and experience’ to secure Olympic places from world championships which commence in Baku on Sept 25th.

“Everyone involved with Irish boxing wishes our lads the very best of luck at the World Championships”, said the IABA President”. “Our boys are really up for this as I’ve seen so far. You only had to go by last Friday’s bout between Ray Moylette and Ross Hickey to show you that. You could send any of these two kids away and they’d do a job.

Des Donnelly, Ireland’s team manager for Baku , added: “This is one of the strongest squads we’ve sent anywhere, if not the strongest. When you look down the list of our boxers we have Olympic ,World ,and European medallists. They all have terrific experience at this level and I think they will do very well in Baku.”

How does High Performance Unit Coach, Billy Walsh see the weeks ahead? : “The lads performed very well at the European Championships, but that was in June. We have to do it all again at the World Championships. We have six lads in the top eight in Europe. If they’re in that position again in Baku then we’re looking at Olympic qualification,” said Irish head coach Billy Walsh.

“Yeah, it’s a good team, a very good team,” said Walsh. “We’ve five ranked in the top 10 in the world and another two just outside it as well as Katie Taylor, who has been the number one in the world for the last five years.”

“We set a target at the beginning of the year that we qualify five boxers over this Olympic process and that at the World Championships we qualify three,” added Walsh.

“That’s three in the top eight and one medal. I’d be very, very happy to exceed that and there’s every possibility to exceed that. John Joe Nevin is the only one to have won a medal in the World Championships since we’ve started. We’ve always struggled.”

Ireland’s team captain for the tests ahead is Beijing medallist, Kenny Egan who has recently moved up to heavyweight. Has he been satisfied with his progress so far?

“I feel comfortable at the weight. I’m trying to bring my speed and my movement with me and I’ve been handling myself fairly well,” he said. “But the test will be the top heavyweights.”

In the recent World rankings from the AIBA, the 29-year-old Egan has a world ranking of 13.

Billy Walsh again : “Seven of our squad are ranked in the world top 11,” said the Wexford man . “Five have won medals at European level and three are Olympians.

“We didn’t have that experience when we went to Beijing. That’s the difference now.

“All 10 of these guys are capable of qualifying for the London Games. I’m excited by what lies ahead.”

A last eight spot in Baku would guarantee a place in London 2012 , whilst boxers who are defeated in the last 16 by the eventual gold and silver medallists, will also qualify for London.

There is of course a second and final qualifying tournament – in Istanbul next April.

“We don’t want to wait until then,” said Walsh. “We want success now. There is nobody out there we cannot beat. We hope to come back with the goods.”

Winning any medals at the Worlds will be a great achievement . Who are Ireland’s best hopes and anyone to “watch out for”?

Barnes, Nevin, Ward, O’Neill and possibly Moylette are all possible medal hopes. If there is to be a ‘surprise packet’ then watch out for young St John Bosco,Belfast flyweight Michael Conlon who has made a big name for himself in this his first year .

Certainly, one for the future like Ward and Moylette whilst the experienced Nevin is but 22 and Barnes 24 so Irish boxing is in good hands in the future.

Finally, let us look at the full Irish squad for Baku and where they stand just now:-

Paddy Barnes

49Kg – Light-flyweight

Club – Holy Family BC, Belfast

Age – 24

Stance – Orthodox

Major Honours – 2008 Olympic bronze medallist. 2010 European and Commonwealth champion. Five-time (and current) Irish Elite champion

AIBA World rank – 8th

Michael Conlon

52Kg – Flyweight

Club – St John Bosco BC, Belfast

Age – 19

Stance – Orthodox

Major Honours – 2011 Irish Elite champion

2011 Gee Bee Gold medal

2011 Germany Multi Nations gold medal

John Joe Nevin

56Kg – Bantamweight

Club – Cavan BC

Age – 22

Stance – Orthodox

Major Honours, Beijing Olympian. 2009 World bronze medallist. 2009 EU champion. Four-time (and current) Irish Elite champion.

AIBA World rank – 4th

David Oliver Joyce

60kg – Lightweight

Club – St Michael’s Athy, Kildare

Age – 24

Stance – Orthodox

Major honours – 2009 EU champion. Four-time Irish Elite champion

Ray Moylette

64Kg – Light-welterweight

Club – St Anne’s, Mayo

Age – 21

Stance – Orthodox

Major Honours – 2011 European Senior champion. 2008 World Youth Champion. 2010 Irish Elite Champion

AIBA World rank: 6th

Roy Sheehan

69Kg: Welterweight

Club – St Michael’s Athy, Kildare

Age – 27

Stance – Orthodox

Major Honours – 2007 EU champion. Three- time Irish Elite champion

Darren O’Neill

75Kg – Middleweight

Club – Paulstown, Kilkenny

Age – 25

Stance – Southpaw

Major Honours – 2010 European silver medallist. 2009 EU Champion. Three-time (and current) Irish Elite champion.

AIBA World rank: 9th

Joe Ward

81Kg: Light-heavyweight

Club – Moate, Westmeath

Age – 17

Stance – Southpaw

Major honours – 2011 European Senior champion. 2009 World Junior champion. 2010 World Youth champion. 2011 Irish Elite champion.

AIBA World rank: 2nd

Ken Egan

91Kg – Heavyweight

Club – Neilstown, Dublin

Age – 29

Stance – southpaw

Major Honours – 2008 Olympic silver medallist. Ten -time Irish Elite champion. Three-time EU champion.Two European bronze medals

AIBA World rank – 13th

Con Sheehan

91+Kg – Super- heavyweight

Club – Clonmel BC, Tipperary

Age – 22

Stance – Orthodox

Major Honours – 2009 EU champion. Four-time (and current) Irish Elite champion

Irish Squad 2011 AIBA World Championships Baku, Azerbaijan

49Kg (Light-flyweight) – Paddy Barnes (Holy Family BC, Belfast)

52Kg: (Flyweight) – Michael Conlon (St John Bosco BC, Belfast)

56Kg: (Bantamweight) – John Joe Nevin (Cavan BC)

60Kg: (Lightweight) – David Oliver Joyce (St Michael’s Athy BC, Kildare)

64Kg: (Light-welterweight) – Ray Moylette (St Anne’s BC, Mayo)

69Kg: (Welterweight) – Roy Sheehan (St Michael’s Athy BC, Kildare)

75Kg: (Middleweight) – Darren O’Neill (Paulstown BC, Kilkenny)

81Kg: (Light-heavyweight) – Joe Ward (Moate BC, Westmeath)

91Kg: (Heavyweight) – Ken Egan (Neilstown BC, Dublin)

91Kg+: (Super-heavyweight) – Con Sheehan (Clonmel BC, Tipperary)

Team manager: Des Donnelly

Coaches: Billy Walsh, Zuar Antia, Jimmy Halpin

Physio: Scott Murphy

Performance Psychologist: Gerry Hussey

Performance Analysis: Alan Swanton

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