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Marshall vs Fontijn and Adams v Ancsin on opening day of women's tournament in Baku
by Michael O'Neill
June 18, 2015
     
   
   

(JUNE 18) 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 BC.

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 major championships.

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 very welcome.

"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 achieve”.

More from Baku as the women’s tournament progresses.

 
     
     
   
 
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