(NOV 14) Europe’s leading
women boxers (minus of course those who have already turned Pro
and those who are ‘taking a break’ after the Rio Olympics) , are
this week taking part in the 10th edition of the EUBC Women’s
European Elite Championships in Sofia, Bulgaria where some 140
boxers representing 28 nations are expected to take part.
The draw takes place Tuesday at
the Sport Hall in downtown Sofia and with unequal numbers in
some weight divisions a few preliminary round byes seem likely.
There are 10 weight classes here, unlike the Olympics, as boxers
between the ages of 19 to 40 will be eligible to compete (if
born between January 1, 1976 and December 31,1997).
Weight classes are: 45kg – 48 kg, 51 kg, 54 kg, 57 kg, 60 kg, 64
kg, 69 kg, 75 kg, 81 kg, 81+ kg
Familiar names missing for one of the reasons above include
Ireland’s London 2012 Gold medallist, Katie Taylor who has
reigned supreme in the 60kg lightweight division since taking
her first title in 2005, current World & Olympic champions,
England’s Nicola Adams and Frenchwoman Estelle Mossely, whilst
highly promising Italian Irma Testa, also at 60kg also remains
Some had already turned Pro like Russia’s Sofya Ochigava.
Another Russian medallist at 60kg Anastasia Belyakov is also
notable by her absence, and also in that weight class no
Savannah Marshall representing England. Indeed on paper anyway
this is arguably the weakest Russian team for many years though
we could be in for a few surprises.
Veteran Finn Mira Potkonen has entered at 60 kg as have
England’s Sandy Ryan and Yana Alekseevna of recently of
Azerbaijan (who as Yana Sidor represented Ukraine for several
years though born in St Petersburg, Russia as was her sister
(the former Anna Rogavich) now also representing Azerbaijan in
these championships ,Anna Alimardanova.
Having spoken a lot about ‘absent friends’ let us also mention
those who WILL be there and among the favourites will be:
Romania’s ‘evergreen’ Steluta Duta (48kg) who first competed in
this event in Riccione Italy back in 2004,Bulgaria’s own
Stanimira Petrova (54kg), veteran Italian Marzia Davide(57kg),
the aforementioned, Potkonen, Ryan and Alekseevna (60kg),and
Ireland’s World silver medallist Kellie Harrington (64kg).
Main threat to Harrington is expected from England’s Chantelle
Cameron and Italy’s Valentina Alberti whilst Poland’s Kinga Siwa
has shown some excellent form in recent months. You can never
discount the Russians and if there is to be a real surprise it
could come from their Aleksandra Ordina also from St Petersburg.
France’s 27 years old Erika Guerrier will be one of the favourites for the
69kg crown along with Azerbaijan’s Elena Vystropova whom she
defeated in the recent Balkan tournament 2:1. Should they meet
again another close fight is sure and could go to a split
decision once more. Ireland’s 21 years old ‘up and coming’
Grainne Walsh from Sparticus Tullamore did magnificently in her
first senior elite outing finishing 5th in the World Elites in
Astana and is ‘one to watch’ again here.
In the Olympic 75kg class, Nouchka Fontijn of the Netherlands
silver medallist to Shields in Rio is joint favourite together
with Russia’s Iaraslava Iakushina though it must be remembered
that she lost out to Ireland’s Christina Desmond in the European
Olympic qualifier in Samsun earlier in the year. Desmond
subsequently took Ireland’s first ever medal – a bronze – at the
2016 FISU World University Games in Chiang Mai, Thailand and has
been showing good form in training as has the new English hope,
Natasha Gale (replacement for the injured Savannah Marshall).
Maily Nicar of France is also rapidly improving and cannot be
discounted. So some good up and coming talent as well as the
current champions. A truly fascinating group.
The 81kg title will surely go either to Turkey’s Elif Guneri of
the Istanbulsport club (a semi-finalist in the Worlds in Astana)
OR to leading Russian Liubov Pashina Iusupova, 28, from the
Khanty-Mansiysh region who took the 2015 World Petroleum title
there. The Turkish boxer may edge this one but it will be very
close if both in top form.
Finally to the 81+kg category, where the winner is likely to be
another Russian, Zenfira Magomedalieka who boxes out of the
Makhachkala club in Dagestan and that fine Turk, Sennur Demir
from Bartin. Another one, too close to call though the Russian
may just edge it on a split.
A truly fascinating week ahead, an opportunity to ‘unearth’ some
new talent but certainly those not in Sofia will be greatly
missed by the AIBA and their national federations.
What if anything did the AIBA offer them to remain with their
National Federations or was the challenge of a new Pro career
too great to ignore at a time when the AIBA is said to be in a
far from healthy state, both financially and in the aftermath of
all the Rio controversies in and out of the ring.