JP Hale will kick off the Northern Ireland boxers at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham today when he takes on Joshua Tukamuhebwa in the last 32 of the 63.5kg class.
The Star ABC man has been pitted against the Ugandan team captain, who will be asking a few questions in the sixth fight of the day (boxing starts at noon), but Hale’s recent performances at the European Championships will fill him with confidence that he can move on.
The draw for the boxing tournament was delayed yesterday but was relatively good with five boxers a medal win away.
Jude Gallagher is the only other member of the squad to start in the last 32 and the Two Castles featherweight will meet Swaziland’s Zweli Dlamini tomorrow, with the winner taking on England’s Niall Farrell, who received a bye.
Amy Broadhurst, recently crowned light welterweight world champion, is just one victory away from the podium but has to wait until next Thursday for her quarter-final match against Zambia’s Felistus Nkandu at lightweight.
Dylan Eagleson will also enter the last eight next Thursday when the European silver medalist takes on Mozambique’s Rugoberto Sigauque at bantamweight.
Olympic bronze medalist and co-captain Aidan Walsh has been given a bye to the round of 16 at light middleweight and will begin his bid to turn 2018 silver into gold on Tuesday when he meets Isaac Ssenyange or Arena Pakela, but if he does advance, he will likely face Harris Akbar, who won gold at the recent European Championships.
Older sister Michaela is also in contention for gold after silver at the previous two Commonwealth Games and the Tokyo Olympian is also awaiting her opponent in Thursday’s featherweight quarter-final with Keamogetse Kenos of Botswana and Natasha Maya of Malawi to join her.
Carly McNaul is another 2018 silver medalist and the Ormeau BC lightweight flyweight, who is now ranked No. 5 in the world, has a round of 16 showdown with Australian Kirsty Harris on Sunday, with Jake Tucker also in eighth finals. the same day against Billy Poullain of Guernsey at middleweight, but could then meet European silver medalist Lewis Richardson.
Elsewhere, Holy Trinity’s Clepson Dos Santos has a last-16 flyweight encounter with Ghana’s Samuel Addo who lost in the 2018 quarter-final to Peter McGrail, while Eugene McKeever is on Tuesday with a last-16 welterweight bout against the Zambian Stephen Zimba.
Two newcomers to the Games, Nicole Clyde and Eireann Nugent, are in the quarter-finals on Wednesday.
Antrim’s Clyde has a tricky mission against India’s Nitu, who reached the quarter-finals of the world championships, while Immaculata’s Nugent is one win away from the middleweight podium and awaits the winner of the England Jodie Wilkinson against Nigerian Bolanie Shogbamu in this fight.
63.5kg L32, Today: John Paul Hale (Star) against Joshua Tukamuhebwa (Uganda)
57kg L32, tomorrow: Jude Gallagher (Two Castles) vs Zweli Dlamini (Swaziland)
50kg L16, Sunday: Carly McNaul (Ormeau Road) vs Kirsty Harris (Australia)
75kg L16, Sunday: Jake Tucker (Emerald) vs Billy Poullain (Guernsey)
51kg L16, Monday: Clepson Dos Santos (Holy Trinity) vs Samuel Addo (Ghana)
71kg L16, Tuesday: Aidan Walsh (Emerald) vs Isaac Ssenyange (Uganda) or Arena Pakela (Lesotho)
70kg QF, Wednesday: Eireann Nugent (Immaculata) vs Jodie Wilkinson (England) or Bolanie Shogbamu (Nigeria)
48kg QF, Wednesday: Nicole Clyde (Antrim ABC) vs Nitu (India),
54kg QF, Thursday: Dylan Eagleson (St Paul’s) vs Rugoberto Sigauque (Mozambique)
57kg QF, Thursday: Michaela Walsh (Emerald) vs Keamogetse Kenos (Botswana) or Natasha Maya (Malawi)
60kg QF, Thursday: Amy Broadhurst (St Bronagh’s) vs Felistus Nkandu (Zambia)67kg L16, Tuesday: Eugene McKeever (Holy Family, Drogheda) vs Stephen Zimba (Zambia).