Boxing

Seconds Out: Michael Nevin gets Ireland off to winning start at Worlds

Monkstown welterweight Aidan Walsh will be between the ropes at the World Elite Championships on Friday, when he takes on Israel's Miroslav Kapuler. Picture by PA
Neil Loughran

MICHAEL Nevin got Ireland off to a winning start at the World Elite Championships with a dominant performance in Yekaterinburg, Russia yesterday.

The Portlaoise middleweight, who won bronze at the European Games back in June, had a significant height advantage over Moldovan opponent Andrei Vreme and swept to a unanimous decision victory.

Nevin landed some crunching body shots throughout, especially in the second round, but was also caught with a couple of big rights over the top. The 22-year-old goes on to meet Lithuania’s Vytautas Balsas on Saturday.

Making their bow at the Worlds today are light-heavyweight Kane Tucker and heavyweight Kiril Afanasev.

Coming in his first major senior international competition, Tucker takes on Erkin Adylbek in the round of 64. The 28-year-old represented Kyrgyzstan at the 2016 Olympic Games, and won a bronze medal at the Asian Championships earlier this year.

Still only 18, it is a big step up for Tucker but one he feels he is ready for after impressing on his way up through the ranks in Ireland. And with Joe Ward now off the scene at 81kg, it is up to somebody else to inherit his crown.

The winner of today’s clash goes on to meet the number two seed, 19-year-old Brazilian Keno Machado, in the last 32 on Sunday. Reigning light-heavyweight king and number one seed, Cuba’s Julio Cesar la Cruz, is on the same side of the draw.

Afanasev will fancy his chances of getting off to a winning start after being paired with Australia’s Austin Aokuso, with Bulgaria’s Radoslav Pantaleev awaiting the victor.

There are no Irish in action tomorrow, with flyweight Regan Buckley and light-welter Wayne Kelly getting the show back on the road on Thursday.

Buckley faces Indonesia’s Aldoms Suquor first up, with fifth seed Daniel Asenov (Bulgaria) lying in wait at the round of 32 stage on Saturday. The St Teresa’s ace, who notched up two wins as a pro before returning to the amateur ranks, also has number one seed Yosvany Veitia Soto (Cuba) on the same side of the draw.

Kelly - who lost out to Belfast’s James McGivern at the Irish Elites back in February - has a chance to impress when he takes on Matthew Alexander from Trinidad & Tobago, with the Petr Novak (Czech Republic) next up for the winner.

Monkstown counter-puncher Aidan Walsh makes his big stage bow on Friday after being paired with 22-year-old Miroslav Kapuler (Israel). Should he come through that test, Walsh would then renew his rivalry with England’s Pat McCormack in the round of 32.

McCormack, who is the number two seed at 69kg, was too strong for the north Belfast man when they met in the 2018 Commonwealth Games final. However, Walsh will have learned plenty from that defeat and has the tools to trouble the 24-year-old from Sunderland.

Number one seed, the brilliant Cuban Andy Cruz Gomez, is on the other half of the draw.

The in-form Kurt Walker is the last Irishman between the ropes, his number six seeding seeing the Lisburn man handed a bye into the last 32. He will face either Samuel Kistohurry (France) or David Avila (Columbia) on Sunday.

Walker comes into the tournament on the back of his gold medal success at the European Games, and admits he would love to follow in the footsteps of 2015 World champion Michael Conlan by topping the podium at bantamweight.

The 23-year-old will be wary, however, having fallen at the first hurdle during his only other World bid, edged out by the Dominican Republic’s Leonel dos Santos after being dropped heavily in the first round.

Walker defeated Kistohurry in the quarter-final of the European Games, bouncing back from a slow start to get the nod, while Avila has already represented his country and the 2016 Olympics.

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The famous Holy Family club recently ran a boxing show at their Belfast home, under the watchful eye of renowned trainer Gerry Storey. Picture by Hugh Russell

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GALLEN TO RETURN HOME WITH EUROPEAN BRONZE

DONEGAL welter Leah Gallen will return home from Bulgaria with a bronze medal after bowing out at the semi-final stage of the European Youth Championships yesterday.

The Raphoe BC teenager lost out on a unanimous decision to Hungary’s Scilla Ambrus, but there was better news for Niamh Fay (Swords) as she moved into the 54kg final.

Fay scored an emphatic win over Romania’s Bianca Cabzaru and will face Croatian Nikolina Cacic in today’s decider.

Elsewhere, Enniskerry light-fly Daina Moorehouse - the 2018 European youth champion - lost on a 4-1 split to Italy’s Erika Priscianaro, while Roscommon middleweight Lisa O’Rourke was edged out on a 3-2 split.

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Boxers from Gleann will face a Jack Costello select in Wildwood, New Jersey on September 19

GLEANN TEAM READY FOR 'WAR AT THE SHORE' IN WILDWOOD

A TEAM from Gleann boxing club in west Belfast is getting ready to head Stateside on Sunday for a showdown with the Philadelphia-based Jack Costello club.

Twenty-nine fighters and seven coaches are among the travelling party bound for America’s east coast, with Gleann slated to go toe-to-toe with their US counterparts at the ‘War at the Shore’ on Thursday, September 19.

There are 15 fights slated for the show at Wildwood Catholic High School, which will be part of the Irish Fall Festival.

Among those representing Gleann will be 2017 Commonwealth Youth Games silver medallist Anto Johnston and Martin McCullough, who won a European junior bronze medal earlier this year, as well as Star lightweight Lee McKee and Newington’s Seamus McMullan.

And secretary Desi Hill says there is a major buzz about the club as they prepare for their transatlantic travels.

“We’ve had trips to Wales, Scotland, England, but this is our first venture to the States and everybody’s really looking forward to it,” he said.

“It came about when a guy from Newry, Seamus Campbell, contacted me about the possibility of a few boxers going over to America but, as it worked out, we were able to match 12 of our fighters with Jack Costello fighters.

“Originally it was only going to be 14 boxers and four coaches going but we didn’t want to leave anybody out, so those who have been training are coming as reserves.

“The first three days are in Philadelphia, with the next four days in Wildwood, so we’ll be doing the Rocky tour and seeing around the city. The itinerary looks pretty full, and it really is the trip of a lifetime for these kids.”

Gleann team: A Johnston, J Boyd, G Arthurs, C Campbell, S McMullan (Newington), L McKee (Star), TJ Doherty, G Mackin, P Beck, O Courtney, O Magennis, C Taylor, M McCullough, P Lennon, C Flanagan, E Hamill, C Hughes, CJ McGrogan

Coaches: D Walsh, D McNally, J Nolan, T Magennis, D McGrogan, S Campbell, B Rooney. President: E Lee. Club ambassador: S Magennis

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