BY CHRIS MCNULTY
FINN Valley ABC heavyweight Michael Gallagher touched down in Sofia, Bulgaria earlier today for the AIBA World Youth Championships.
Gallagher, who won a bronze medal at the 2010 European Schoolboy Championships (also in Bulgaria), has been in training with the Irish team over the last couple of months.
The big Kinletter man won his tenth Irish title in January when he defeated Gary Maughan to win the Irish Open Youth Championships and in February he took home a bronze medal from a major international tournament in Russia.
Gallagher lost out to Russian Maksim Kolesnikov in the semi-finals of the VII International Youth Tournament, the ‘Nikolay Pavlyukov Memorial’, in Anapa, having previously defeated Latvia’s Artyoms Kolesnikov and Russia’s Oleg Fomichev Gallagher.
These World Championships are the only qualifier for the Youth Olympics, to be held in August in the city of Nanjing in China.
In Sofia, the top five (the semi-finalists and the quarter-finalist who was beaten by the eventual gold medallist) in each of the ten weight categories will qualify for China. While each nation, theoretically, can qualify 13 boxers, they are restricted to five boxers (three males, two females) for the Youth Olympics.
A record 105 countries have registered to compete in Sofia, where Gallagher will be gunning for the medals.
Boxing in Sofia begins on Monday. “The team have prepared well and are in good shape,” said Irish coach Billy McClean.