Kieran Molloy will be aiming to maintain his impressive start to 2018 with a big performance against India in Mayo.
The Oughterard BC welterweight and current Irish Elite champion has been named on an 11-strong Irish male squad to meet the Asian kingpins at the Royal Theatre in Castlebar on Saturday.
India finished in 2nd spot in the medal table at this year’s Commonwealth Games in Australia and in 3rd place at the 2017 Asian Championships in Uzbekistan.
“Preparations are great, said Galway-native Molloy who also scooped the Best Male Boxer Award at February’s Elite Championships at Dublin’s National Stadium and followed that up with wins over Freudis Rojas Jnr. and Quinton Randall of the USA in Ireland’s three-match away meeting with America in March.
“We’ve been in Dublin for the past seven weeks training hard and learning all the time. I’m looking forward to the test against India as they’re a strong side.
“I’m sure there will be some great fights on the night. It’s also good that they are holding an international in the West of Ireland and I’m sure Castlebar will draw a crowd,” added the former AIBA World Junior medallist.
Antrim bantamweight Kurt Walker claimed Commonwealth silver in Australia earlier this year and European Elite bronze in 2017 and wants to build on that momentum.
“I’m looking to get a good few rounds in against India. They’re a strong boxing nation and they have a lot of strength in depth, he said.
“My performances were getting better as I went along (at Commonwealth Games). I just missed out in the final but I felt that I could have beat him. I’m happy enough with where I’m at at the minute and where I’m going.”
With Tokyo 2020 on the horizon, Bernard Dunne, IABA High-Performance Director, has one eye on the qualifiers for the 32nd Olympiad.
The former WBA super-bantamweight and Irish Elite champion believes that India is a world class boxing nation.
He said: “We see the India meeting as an opportunity to develop our athletes and test them against a team who regularly qualify for major tournaments.
“We’re very fortunate that we’ve got numerous athletes in each weight division that can compete on the international stage. We’re developing toward (Tokyo) 2020 so our younger athletes can gain international experience.
“I don’t have any doubts about the strength of the opposition. India is a quality team as they’ve proven with past results. We’re looking to test ourselves against a quality boxing nation in Mayo.
“I am very impressed with the new boxing academy at Lough Lannagh, not just the gym itself, but the facilities surrounding it. Castlebar is the ideal location to host such a major event and it can only be good for Mayo,” he added.
Irish team versus India
52kg Brendan Irvine (St Paul’s)
52kg Connor Quinn (Clonard)
56kg Kurt Walker (Canal)
60kg George Bates (St Mary’s)
64kg Kenneth Doyle (Monkstown)
64kg Wayne Kelly (Portlaoise)
69kg Kieran Molloy (Oughterard)
75kg Michael Nevin (Portlaoise)
81kg Tony Browne (St Michael’s Dublin)
91kg Kirill Afanasev (Glasnevin)
91kg+ Dean Gardiner (Clonmel)