The World Series of Boxing (WSB) 2016 season begins in Istanbul, Turkey on Saturday, with the Turkiye Conquerors taking on the China Dragons.
The Turks make a welcome return to the WSB this term, as they competed as Istanbul Bospherous in season 1 and 2, a squad which featured the talents of Ireland’s three-time EU champion David Oliver Joyce.
Four Irish boxers, Paddy Barnes, Steven Donnelly, Darren O’Neill and Dean Gardiner are signed with WSB panels for 2016.
Barnes and Donnelly and O’Neill could feature on opposing sides when the Hussars of Poland meet Venezuela in Warsaw the weekend after this.
While the various squads in the WSB will be focusing on reaching the knockout stages from their Groups, individually, boxers not qualified for Rio 2016 will have one eye on May’s WSB versus AIBA Pro Boxing (APB) qualifiers in Sofia, Bulgaria.
However, Olympic qualification through the WSB is of academic interest only to Barnes and Donnelly. Both boxers have already booked tickets for the 31st Olympiad, through the WSB.
WSB boxers need to have two fights – regardless of result – under their belts, either one last season or two this term, to make May’s WSB v APB qualifiers
Gardiner boxed once for Mexico last year, while O’Neill will be making his WSB debut this year.
Ireland’s boxers have competed in every season of the WSB since the inaugural season in 2010. However, they’ve never had the luxury of fighting at home as there has never been an Irish WSB side, as of yet……
Irish WSB Foreign Boxers Draft
91kg+ Dean Gardiner (Puerto Rico Hurricanes)
91kg Darren O’Neill (Venezuela Caciques)
75kg Steven Donnelly (Hussars Poland)
49kg Paddy Barnes (Hussars Poland)