Irish light heavyweight Ken Egan believes that Russia will be one of the favourites to top the medals podium at the European Senior Amateur Boxing Championships which begin in Bulgaria on July 13, 2006. Egan (81kg) Darren O'Neill (75Kg) Roy Sheehan (69Kg) and Eric Donovan (57Kg) have been provisionally selected on a four man Irish Amateur Boxing Association (IABA) squad for next months eleven-day tournament in Sofia.
Middleweight Andy Lee, who has since signed a five year contract with Emanuel Stewards Kronk Gym in Detroit, was the last Irish boxer to finish in a podium position at the European Championships overcoming a hand injury to take home bronze from Croatia in 2004. The Russians bagged an incredible nine gold medals from eleven finals in Croatia and former European Union Championship gold medallist Egan, believes they will be the ones to watch.
Egan said, "The European Championships are held every two years and after the Olympics and the World Championships this is the tournament where we all want to do well. It is hard to look beyond Russia to tell the truth because if anything they have improved since Croatia as they showed at the World Championships in China last November where they were just edged out in the medals table by Cuba. Overall the eastern European countries will be tough and fingers crossed that we can get a favourable draw in the earlier rounds as it makes it all the more difficult if you meet a Russian at the start of the tournament".
He added, "But then again if you want to win at medal at the European Championships it is almost inevitable that you will have to meet and beat a Russian at some stage." The Irish quartet, under Technical director Gary Keegan, and coaches Billy Walsh, and Zuiari Anita, travel to Moscow this weekend for a ten day training camp with the Russian national side before departing for Bulgaria on July 12.