AIBA World No. 1 Katie Taylor will compete for an Irish Elite title for the first time on Friday evening, November 27th, at the Quick Park National Elite Women’s Championships at the National Stadium in Dublin.
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The Bray woman meets Tipperary’s Shauna O’Keeffe for the vacant Irish lightweight belt at the home of Irish boxing.
O’Keeffe, who boxes out of the Clonmel BC, beat Clare’s Kayleigh Murrihy-McCormack on a unanimous decision in last Friday’s Munster derby to set up the showdown with the five-time AIBA World Elite gold medallist.
Taylor, the current Olympic, World, European Elite, European Games and European Union lightweight champion, received a bye into the 60kg final. The Wicklow orthodox, a four-time Irish champion on walkovers, has never boxed for an Irish Elite belt before as no opponent has entered against her.
O’Keeffe is the current Irish Intermediate champion. The 21-year-old Tipp southpaw also won Celtic Cup Cup gold this year. Martin Fennessey and Robert Scanlon will be working her corner against the AIBA Ambassador for women’s boxing.
“Shauna has an Olympic dream like anyone else. She’s a tough, determined and focussed young boxer and she has great belief in herself,” said Fennessey.
“I’m delighted to get the opportunity to box for an Irish title and I’ll be taking absolutely nothing for granted,” said Taylor, who created Irish boxing history at the National Stadium in 2001 after she beat Allana Murphy in the first officially IABA sanctioned women’s bout in Ireland.
Meanwhile, Ceire Smith, who stunned current World Elite champion Marlen Esparza (USA) on a split decision in the Feliks Stamm Memorial in Warsaw this year, meets 2014 Commonwealth Games silver medallist Michaela Walsh in Friday’s flyweight final.
“I’m going for my sixth title and I’m training full time. I’m hoping it will go my way. Everyone is talking about it being the fight of the Championships. It’s all or nothing and hopefully I’m on the plane for the qualifiers,” said Smith.
Walsh has dropped down from bantam, the weight she won an Elite title at last January, to flyweight as the 52kg class is one of the three Olympic weights for women, along with lightweight and middleweight.
Eight women’s finals will be decided on Friday, with European Elite bronze medallist Clare Grace meeting Grainne Walsh in the welterweight decider. Lauren Hogan gets proceedings underway versus Donna Barr, and Dervla Duffy clashes with Elaine Harrison over four, two minute rounds.
Joanne Lambe is in against Moira McElligott and Kelly Harrington and Diana Campbell meet Cheyanne O’Neill and Maeve McCarron.
The Men’s Elite Championships resume this Saturday evening.
The IABA are running the National Elites twice this year to assist Ireland’s boxers heading into the Olympic qualifiers in 2016. The first European qualifier for AIBA Open Boxing (AOB), now the official name for amateur boxing, for Rio 2016 for women (and men) will be in Istanbul, Turkey next April.
So far, Ireland has qualified three boxers – Paddy Barnes, Michael Conlan, and Joe Ward – for the 31st Olympiad in Rio.
Ten further places will be available for Ireland’s male and female boxers in 2016, with the journey beginning this Friday at the QuickPark Women’s Elite finals at the National Stadium in Dublin.
Elite National Women’s Championships National Stadium Dublin
November 27th (7.30pm
48kg *Lauren Hogan (St Brigids Edenderry) V Donna Barr (Twin Towns)
51kg Michaela Walsh (Holy Family GG) V *Ceire Smith (Cavan)
54kg Dervla Duffy (St Brigids Kildare) V Elaine Harrison (Ardnaree)
57kg Joanne Lambe (Carrickmacross) V Moira McElligott (Rathkeale)
60kg Katie Taylor (Bray) V Shauna O’Keeffe (Clonmel)
64kg *Kelly Harrington (Glasnevin) V Cheyanne O’Neill (Athlone)
69kg Clare Grace (Callan) V Grainne Walsh (Sparticus)
75kg Christina Desmond (Fr Horgans) W/O
81+kg *Diana Cambell (Garda) V Maeve McCarron (Carrigart)
(*denotes defending champions)
Women’s Elite Finals 2015
48kg Lauren Hogan beat Meave Clarke 3:0
51kg Ceire Smith beat Kristina O’Hara 3:0
54kg Michaela Walsh WO.
57kg Dervla Duffy beat Joanne Lamb KO 4
60kg Deborah O’Reilly beat Louise Donoghue 3:0
64kg Kelly Harrington beat Kayleigh Murrihy 3:0
69kg Claire Grace beat Christina Desmond 2:1
75kg Louise Traynor — WO.
+81kg Diana Campbell beat Fionna Nelson 2:1