Cork's Desmond in Irish squad for Sofia event

Cork's Desmond in Irish squad for Sofia event
Christina Desmond, at her home village of Cill na Martra.Picture: Jim Coughlan

CORK welterweight Christina Desmond has been named on a 20-strong Irish squad for the Elite Strandja multi nations in Bulgaria.

The 71st edition of the tournament begins on January 21 in Sofia where Ireland's top boxers will be aiming to impress ahead of the European qualifiers for Tokyo 2020 in London in March.

Macroom southpaw Desmond, who boxes out of the Fr Horgan's BC, and Grainne Walsh, who Desmond beat in the last two Irish Elite finals, will box at welterweight in the Bulgaria capital.

"I'm looking forward to the challenge," said Desmond. "A lot of the top nations in the world will be there so there will be top-class opposition which is ideal."

Russia and USA, under former Irish head coach Billy Walsh, have entered. The Americans have named a 26-strong squad and will double up in all of the 13 Olympics weights for men and women.

Ireland will double up in seven weights in Sofia with former World Elite champion Kellie Harrington and Amy Broadhurst lining out at lightweight.

Harrington is returning from the hand injury that forced her to withdraw from last June's European Games' final with Katie Taylor's Rio 2016 conqueror Mira Potkonen in Belarus.

Current European Elite champions Kurt Walker and Aoife O'Rourke line out at feather and middle and brother and sister Aidan and Michaela Walsh are also in the mix.

Irish boxing chiefs are using the tournament as part of their selection process for the European qualifier for Tokyo 2020 which begins at the Copper Box in London on March 13.

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