The long wait for some in over and come Friday the 2015 Women’s
Elite tournament at the European Games in Baku will have seen
its opening bouts.
(Photo: ABAE/Boxing England)
Britain's Olympic and Commonwealth champion Nicola Adams begins
her bid to add a European Games gold to her medal haul at
Crystal Hall 2 when she takes on Katalin Ancsin of Hungary in
the women's flyweight (51kg) division. Fellow Briton Savannah
Marshall, the world and Commonwealth champion at middleweight
(75kg), also steps into the ring for the first time in Baku,
where she squares up to Dutchwoman Nouchka Fontijn.
First into the ring though will be Bulgarian flyweight Stoyka
Petrova and the champion of France Wassila Khadiri – could be
close this one as the French woman is much improved but
nonetheless it would be a major upset if Petrova does not emerge
victorious. Hungary’s Ancsin is another who has shown some good
form in 2015 but is unlikely to disturb Adams in her quest for
the inaugural European women’s boxing Gold.
There are some other ‘bouts to savour’ on the opening day, none
more so than the meeting of Dutch champion Nouchka Fontijn and
Team GB’s Savannah Marshall in the middleweight division. These
are two of the finest boxers in the World let alone in Europe
and as we said recently it is a great shame that so many clashes
which would have graced Finals day happen so early simply
because the AIBA refuse to allow seeding for women boxers unlike
their male colleagues.
Another clash in the middleweights worth seeing is that between
Sweden’s Anna Laurell and Hungarian Timea Nagy – both ‘veterans’
of many campaigns and hoping to medal again in Baku.
Europe’s other Olympic Gold medallist in women’s boxing ,Katie
Taylor sees her first ‘action’ on Sunday afternoon against her
old ‘friend and foe’ Denitsa Eliseeva from Bulgaria. Taylor has
won on the last two occasions they have met but the Bulgarian is
one of the few boxers to have ‘defeated’ Taylor, at least
according to the records albeit most neutrals – and in fairness
the Bulgarian herself – believed that the Irish woman was well
ahead before the judges in Usti nad Labem rendered everyone
speechless by declaring the Bulgarian as the ‘winner’ and that
even after the stadium announcer and Eliseeva herself had
congratulated Taylor on her ‘splendid’ win.
Other Irish women in action this weekend include Michaela Walsh
from the Holy Family club in Belfast coached by Laureus Award
winner Gerry Storey and Ceire Smith from Cavan BC. Smith is up
against Norwegian champion, Camilla Johansen Friday whilst Walsh
has a tough bout against the Russian champion and world no.4
Elena Saveleva on Saturday.
©Baku 2015 - Irish Head Coach Billy
Walsh with Zauri Antia
A major talking point in Baku this week has been how much the
Irish boxers (male and female) have improved under Head Coach
Billy Walsh as well as Peter Taylor and Gerry Storey.One of the
main reasons for this success in fact is a former champion of
Georgia, one Zauri Antia. Himself a many times champion of
Georgia, Zauri coaches Katie Taylor with her Dad,Peter at Bray
Antia moved with his wife and three children to live in Bray,
County Wicklow, where the local club contains a stable of boxers
that includes world and Olympic champion Katie Taylor and many
‘up and coming’ stars of tomorrow and Garda Adam Nolan, also in
the team at Baku.
He brought expertise gained in his previous job as head coach to
the Georgian team, and in 12 years with the Irish, he has helped
foster a growth in the sport and an increase in medals gained at
Antia said: "My family moved with me to Ireland, and we are very
happy living in Bray. I love the Irish people. They are very
similar to Georgians - very kind with great hospitality.
"I always say that Georgia is in my blood but Ireland is in my
heart. I love Guinness and I love Irish music. My whole family -
my wife and three children and one grandchild - have been made
"The improvement in Irish boxing has been very good - the
skills, the strength and the strategy of the fighters and the
technique which is the most important thing.
"At the Beijing Olympics (in 2008) we won three medals (a silver
and two bronze) and at London (2012) we won four (a gold, silver
and two bronze).Taylor’s 60kg lightweight title being Ireland’s
only Gold medal in any sport in London 2012.
"In Rio? We will win them all! No, seriously we will look to
improve some more.
"I have taken the Irish boxers to places like Ukraine,
Kazakhstan and Russia, and this has been a big thing for them.
We have a young team and there is no limit to what they can
More from Baku as the women’s tournament progresses.