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Baku 2015 - Women's Bouts commence Friday 19th - We discuss the draw for the inaugural European Games
by Michael O'Neill
June 16, 2015

(JUNE 16) The inaugural Baku 2015 European Games opened Friday with a very colourful opening ceremony in Baku and there have been good crowds at the opening days events. Now it is the turn of the boxers with the men’s tournament starting Tuesday morning in Crystal Hall 2 in the Azerbaijan capital whilst the women’s draws have also been made though their opening bouts will be on Sunday 19th.

Here we take a look at the “main hopes” for medal success in Baku in three of the women’s weights (the other two to follow) :

A total of 220 men and 66 women will compete in Baku across 15 weight classes, and 30 quotas for the AIBA World Boxing Championships Doha 2015 will be granted to the top three boxers in each men’s category. As we said before there are no Olympic qualifying quotas for women and also no seeding for women boxers though that courtesy has been extended to male boxers. Discrimination ? Well that view is certainly prevalent among boxers and coaches (male and female) that have voiced their views be it openly or privately.

How do you see it? As always you can email us at wban100@aol.com or via our Social Media accounts (Twitter/Facebook).

Who do we at WBAN think will win the prestigious inaugural titles in Baku? There are certainly some fascinating days ahead in the women’s tournament so let us nominate our choices weight by weight.

Fly: Nicola Adams (GB) or Bulgaria’s Stoyka Petrova to take the Gold but which? One may as well ‘toss a coin’ – should be a great bout, shame they have to meet so early in the competition (see draw sheets at end) but reports from Sheffield suggest Adams in nearing a return to her best form. In the final the winner of that bout is likely to meet Russia’s Saiana Sagateva or Italy’s Terry Gordini with the Russian being slight favourite. I go for Adams to take the first ever European Games women’s Gold.

Bantam: The quirks of the ‘ no seeding’ draw suggests that the ‘evergreen’ Italian Marzia Davide may well reach the final here and should that prove so, then who will she meet? Again many of the top stars are in the other half including Russia’s world no.3 ,Elena Saveleva, the host nation’s Anna Alimardanova, Ireland’s Commonwealth Games silver medallist Michaela Walsh, World champion Stanimira Petrova (Bulgaria) and Turkey’s Ayse Tas, all highly regarded and talented boxers.

The Irish boxer is quietly confident of upsetting the Russian when the two meet in their opener this weekend. Today she said : " I box the Russian champion and world no.3 (Elena Saveleva) on Saturday, I boxed her last year she beat me split decision.. Gonna be a different story this time I can't wait to get in and box I'm feeling brilliant!" Or can Anna Alimardanova prosper with the raucous home crowd behind her? Clearly this is a hard one to call but her greater overall experience may result in that Gold medal going to Bulgaria’s World champion Stanimira Petrova though if Italian veteran Marzia Davide were to triumph it would not be a huge shock. Walsh is undoubtedly one to watch for the future.

Lightweight: As in the World’s at Jeju, the ‘unseeded’ draw once more pits Ireland’s Katie Taylor (seeking her 17th major International Gold) against almost all of the top challengers at 60kg with only France’s Estelle Mossely looking like a serious challenger in the other half of the draw. Among the strongest challengers in Taylor’s half are Bulgaria’s Denitsa Eliseeva whom she meets in the opening round, Finland’s Mira Potkonen, Turkey’s new champion Gamze Basar, Sweden’s Ida Lundblad, the host nation’s favourite daughter, Yana Alekseevena (silver medallist in Jeju World’s) and the new Russian hope at 60kh , Zaida Dobrynina (replacing Sofya Ochigava). Should they meet then either the Russian or the Azeri is capable of causing a major upset though at this time it is difficult to overlook the claims of Katie Taylor who never enters any major tournament looking for anything other than Gold.

The 28-year-old has won five consecutive World Championships, six consecutive European Championships, and five European Union Championships, and sees the first ever European Games in Azerbaijan as another opportunity to create history.

Said Taylor: “It’s going to be such an historical event with it being the first event in the European Games, and you can’t really get any bigger than that.” I really can’t wait to be boxing and representing my country again in such a major competition. It’s an absolute privilege that I have another chance to make history.”

Miss Taylor added that competing in Baku will be unforgettable: “It’s always great to go into a country where they are very knowledgeable about the sport, and to have a really strong boxing team as well. I know the atmosphere is going to be fantastic in the Crystal Hall.”

The Olympic champion made it clear that she has only one goal at Baku 2015: “We’re all there to win the gold medal but only one person walks out with a gold medal, and I plan to be that person. “I want to be the best female boxer of all time.”

In our next update , we will look at the contenders for the Light Welter and Middleweight crowns in Baku, give our views on a number of contentious issues which need to be quickly resolved and include the AIBA’s own preview of the tournament. So join us then for all the latest news from Baku.

Our thanks to the Baku 2015 organisers who have provided numerous links for the benefit of readers:

http://www.baku2015.com/boxing/reports/index.html (Entries & Start lists)(weight by weight)

http://www.baku2015.com/en_externalmodules/BX/pdf/BXW051000_C32C1_13.pdf (Schedules & Results as and when bouts take place)

http://www.baku2015.com/en_externalmodules/BX/pdf/BX0000000_C08B_2.pdf (Medals & final results – when Finals take place)


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