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Coach is backing Walsh to show his class on the world stage

On mission: Aidan Walsh can fire out a warning in Russia
On mission: Aidan Walsh can fire out a warning in Russia
David Kelly

By David Kelly

Aidan Walsh will seek to make a statement of intent when he competes at the World Championships in Russia.

The Commonwealth Games silver medallist kicks off his campaign against Israel's Miroslav Kapuler, who previously represented Ukraine. Victory would certainly demonstrate why his Monkstown club coach Paul Johnston believes he has a real shot at qualifying for next year's Olympics in Tokyo.

The tall welterweight was beaten in the semi-finals of the Irish seniors earlier this year by Paddy Donovan on a split decision. Kieran Molloy would eventually go on to win the title, but Walsh has been given the opportunity to show his potential on the world stage.

While the official qualifying tournaments for the Olympics are not until next year, when Ireland will send a team of 10 men and five women to London and Paris, Walsh is relishing the chance of making a run at the World Championships - particularly with a second Irish Elite Championships being held in November.

Coach Johnston said: "This is a great opportunity for Aidan. He is part of the High Performance team in Dublin and has clearly impressed the High Performance director Bernard Dunne, who picked him for this team.

"Aidan did very well winning silver at the Commonwealth Games in 2018 but he has matured physically and mentally and really come on a lot. We've had to change his style and he has responded to that.

"For a long time, like many amateurs, he had a style that was suited to the computer scoring system. He would naturally box from the outside, like his sister Michaela, but now Aidan is much more comfortable in the pocket and sitting down on his punches to get more power.

"I've been very pleased with how he has come on and he is developing all the time."

Johnston is expecting Walsh to face a tough test against Kapuler tomorrow, while on Sunday Antrim's European gold medallist Kurt Walker will start his campaign at bantamweight.

"The Ukrainian boxers are all developed so well technically, so we know that Aidan has a tough opening bout but he will be ready for the challenge without a doubt," added Johnston.

Aidan's sister Michaela, also a Commonwealth Games silver medallist, will be part of the Irish team heading to the Women's World Championships in Russia next month. Having won silver at the European Games in the summer, she will be hoping for more hardware in the 57kg division.

Coach Johnston added: "Michaela has also progressed a lot over the past 12 months. She has a great engine and I've no doubt she'll be an Olympian. She has an incredible desire to be the best she can be."

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