Boxing

Kane Tucker hoping to bury ghosts at European U22 Championships

Kane Tucker, pictured with Cuba's Julio Cesar la Cruz, returns to the ring at the European U22 Championships in Italy
Neil Loughran

Amateur boxing: European U22 Championships

NEWRY light-heavyweight Kane Tucker hopes to bury a few ghosts when he steps between the ropes at the European U22 Championships in Italy on Saturday.

The 20-year-old is part of a 10-strong team that travelled to Roseto Degli Abruzzi earlier this week, having finally received the green light from the Irish government to travel and compete against some of the continent’s finest.

And Tucker has been here before – two years ago, at the European Youth Championships. Still campaigning as a middleweight back then, he ended up on the wrong end of an awful decision when losing out to Croatia’s Gabrijel Veocic.

Now, having been drawn against France’s Raphael Monnie, he returns to the same city determined to ensure there is a different result.

“It’s in the exact same hall, and we’re staying in the exact same place,” he laughs.

“Ah look it was a very bad decision, I thought I’d done enough, but I wouldn’t be getting hung up on it. All I’m thinking about now is my next fight, not that one. Hopefully all those things balance themselves out.

“I think everybody’s just glad to be getting back to competition. You put so much time into it, so much sacrifice, and there’s nothing to work towards, so I’m glad to get this chance.

“There’s been a lot of sparring, but now I just can’t wait to get into the ring. Nothing compares to an actual fight.”

And he insists that the uncertainty over whether or not the Irish team would be allowed to travel at all didn’t filter down to the boxers, who have been diligently training away in Abbotstown for the past six weeks.

“I heard bits and pieces but there was nothing much said so I just trained as if it was going ahead and if it didn’t, then so be it. I never really took into consideration any chance we wouldn’t get to go.

“We’re down in Dublin from April, you’d probably have preferred maybe a 10 or 12 week camp instead of six weeks, but beggars can’t be choosers.”

Tucker has been sparring the likes of Irish heavyweight champion Kirill Afanasev and Dublin heavyweight Jack Marley, who is also in Italy.

He has also been lucky to have brother Jake to bounce off, the younger of the Tucker brothers –both trained by Harry Hawkins at Belfast’s Emerald club – who is a huge talent in his own right, as showcased in his 2020 Ulster Elite title success.

“We’ve only really been able to get down to Harry when restrictions permitted but myself and Jake have been keeping each other sharp – it’s handy having a brother there who’s a similar weight, similar age, similar enough style where we can bounce off each other.

“We’re both still young and learning the trade. My first senior fight at this weight was at the World Championships [in 2019], I only got one fight at the Irish Elites when I broke my hand, then after that I had the Ulster seniors.

“I haven’t had much elite experience yet, so I’m happy enough with the situation I’m in now.”

The European U22s offers a welcome opportunity to get more rounds under his belt against some of top prospects around – though Tucker isn’t in Italy to make up the numbers.

“If you go to any competition looking anything less than gold then you shouldn’t be going. You have to think like that,” he said.

“All the eastern European countries, a lot of their main fighters would be in around the 21-22 age range, so it’s a very tough competition.”

DRAW

European U22 Championships, Roseto Degli Abruzzi

51kg (last 16): N Earley v Romane Moulai (France)

52kg (round of 32): S Mari v H Mohmoud (England)

56kg (last 16): A Hession v G Virban (Hungary)

60kg (last 16): EM Gartland v A Doka (Hungary)

64kg (round of 32): D Clancy v P Novak (Czech Republic)

69kg (round of 32): K Molloy v D Crotter (Germany)

75kg (last 16): G Dossen v A Vreme (Moldova)/M Fendero (France)

81kg (last 16): K Tucker v R Monnie (France)

91kg (last 16): J Marley v A Yordanyan (Georgia)

+ 91kg (last 16): G Lisinskas v V Fiaschetti (Italy)

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Boxing