Stakes never higher for Irish champions as World Boxing Championships beckon
Changing face of ‘amateur’ boxing sees the likes of Ward, Conlan and Barnes aiming to earn professional contracts in new era
This weekend in the Baluan Sholak Palace of Sports and Culture, the boxers will fight to the ‘10-point must system,’ the same as in professional boxing, so named because a judge must award 10 points to at least one boxer after each round before deductions for fouls.
Most rounds are scored 10-9 with 10 points for the winner of the round and nine for the loser. For an even round it’s judged 10-10 and for each knock down a judge deducts an additional point from the fighter knocked down resulting in a 10-8 score or 10-7 for two knock downs.
The method makes it more difficult for fighters to run away with the bout after one round as there is usually just one point dividing the contestants.
Even without world number one Nevin, Walsh’s team includes Olympic bronze medallist Conlan, double Olympic bronze medallist Barnes, European Champion middleweight Jason Quigley and the one time teenage European light-heavyweight champion Ward.
Conlan will move up a division from flyweight to take Nevin’s place at 56 kg and will carry 75 per cent of his ranking points with him, which should see him seeded.
The Belfast 22-year-old is currently ranked three in the world at lightweight and his points carry-over should have him placed in the top four bantamweights in Almaty. If Conlan turns professional, he will certainly end up boxing in that division.
This is Ward’s comeback tournament after a poor showing two years ago, failure to qualify for the Olympics and dislocating a kneecap at the recent European Championships in Minsk.
He’s had quite a career for a 19-year-old and is still a whirlwind blowing through the division. The best of Ward, who needs luck to fall his way in the draw, would secure a medal.
Jason Quigley was this year’s breakthrough boxer, when he won a gold medal in the summer’s European Championships.
The Donegal middleweight finally beat London 2012 Irish team captain, Darren O’Neill and is one of the most exciting talents on the scene. There is also professional talk from Quigley.
The others, apart from Ray Moylette, who was a World Youth Champion, have yet to punch through at international level.
But in heavyweight, Tommy McCarthy, super-heavyweight, Con Sheehan and welterweight Adam Nolan, experience is with them in a competition seen as more difficult than the Olympics.
For the most successful Irish team at international level the future seems bright. But just what that future is remains open to question in the rapidly evolving boxing world.