The Irish Athletic Boxing Association (IABA) have named a nine-strong Elite squad for the Chemistry Cup in Halle, Germany.
Current European Elite champion Joe Ward, pictured, lines out at light-heavy.
Seven national Elite champions – Conor Quinn, George Bates, Wayne Kelly, Kieran Molloy, Michael Nevin, Kiril Afanasev and Dean Gardiner – are included on the Irish team, along with Commonwealth Games finalist Kurt Walker.
Ward, a two-time Chemistry Cup champion, could meet Julio La Cruz in Halle as the Olympic champion has been named on the Cuban panel for the 45th edition of the tournament.
Boxing with the British Lionhearts, Ward topped the World Series of Boxing Individual rankings ahead of second-place La Cruz this season, but the Cuban beat the Westmeath southpaw in the 2017 and 2015 World Elite finals.
“It’s going to be tough. Cuba are going to be there which makes it more difficult. It’s a stepping stone for me to build for when it really matters; the qualifiers for the Olympic Games next year,” said Ward.
Bernard Dunne believes that the Chemistry Cup, which has evolved into a virtual mini World Championships in recent seasons, will be an ideal test.
“The Chemistry Cup is a top tournament. It going to be tough as there will be world class athletes there,” said the IABA High-Performance Director.
“We’re sending a full team. It’s all about development and about getting ready for Olympic qualification tournaments.”
Head coach Zaur Antia and coaches Michael Carruth, the 1992 Olympic champion, Philip Keogh and Paul Thompson will be working Ireland’s corner in Germany
Boxing begins on Wednesday in Halle.
45th Chemistry cup Halle, Germany June 19/24
52kg Conor Quinn (Clonard)
56kg Kurt Walker (Canal)
60kg George Bates (St Marys)
64kg Wayne Kelly (Portlaoise)
69kg Kieran Molloy (Oughterard)
75kg Michael Nevin (Portlaoise)
81kg Joe Ward (Sparticus)
91kg Kiril Afanasev (Smithfield)
91+kg Dean Gardiner (Clonmel)
Head coach: Zaur Antia
Coahes: Michael Carruth, Philip Keogh, Paul Thompson