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Adrian Roach remains focused on World Championships amid mounting boycotts

Focused on the task in hand: Adrian Roach (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Adrian Roach remains fully focused on competing at the Men's World Championships, despite mounting boycotts throwing the event into turmoil.

In the build-up to the championships, scheduled to be hosted in Tashkent, Uzbekistan in May, the International Boxing Association, headed up by Russian official Umar Kremlev, lifted a ban on boxers from Russia and Belarus competing under their own flag despite the International Olympic Committee's recommendations to the contrary as a result of the ongoing war in Ukraine.

The participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes has resulted in a growing list of national governing bodies pulling out of the IBA's flagship events, with Ukraine the latest to join the United States, Poland, Switzerland, Holland, Britain, Ireland, Czech Republic, Sweden and Canada in withdrawing from both the Men’s and Women's World Championships, while also threatening to boycott next year's Olympics in Paris.

Despite a major shadow being cast over the event, Roach still expects to be competing at the championships with no formal discussions taking place with the Bermuda Boxing Federation regarding a boycott as yet.

“As far as I’m aware I’m still expecting to compete at the World Championships and so I’m preparing as if I’m going to be there,” said Roach, who is set to represent the island as part of a four-fighter contingent at the Leonard “Boston Blackie” Miller/Wellington “Sonny Boy” Rahming Memorial Championships in Bahamas, starting on Thursday.

“Obviously I’m hugely sympathetic to the people of Ukraine and fully support the country because it is awful to see what they are going through. It’s a really difficult situation but I’m not in control of that decision whether to boycott or not, that comes down to the federation.

“We’ve not any discussion personally but I’ve spoken to other athletes and friends on the boxing circuit who will be boycotting. However, as I said it is not my decision to make and so I have to prepare as normal on focus on doing my job as if I’m still definitely going.”

While the World Championships are not a direct qualification pathway for next year’s Olympics, due to the International Olympic Committee suspending the IBA from administering qualifying events for the sport, Roach’s need to compete remains paramount in preparation for his own qualification ambitions.

As well as this week’s event, the welterweight is planning on competing at the championships in May, and at the Central American and Caribbean Games in San Salvador, El Salvador, in June and July, as tune ups for the pivotal Pan American Games in Santiago, Chile, in October and November, which represent his first opportunity to seal his place at the Olympic Games.

“Being from a small island it makes it difficult to have opportunities to fight in bigger competitions and gain key experience,” added Roach, who saw his dreams of qualifying for the last Olympics, in Tokyo dashed, after the cancellation of the Americas boxing qualifier because of coronavirus-related travel restrictions concerns.

“That’s why the situation with the World Championships is difficult because in any normal circumstance, I couldn’t afford to miss out on a big event like that.

“We have limited opportunities to fight abroad as it is and so I need all of the event preparation that I can get ahead of the Pan American Games which is my first qualifying opportunity and my main focus.

“I know some of the nations won’t be competing there will still be some powerful and big nations involved and so it is still an opportunity to fight in a high quality competition.

“Events like that are an entirely different level to what we can normally fight in and so it is a chance to challenge myself against some of the best ahead of the Pan Am Games.

“For myself, every tournament serves a huge purpose because they all lead up to the Pan Am Games, which is my ultimate goal.”

Turning his attention back to this week’s championships, Roach is determined to make amends for the last time he represented the island, in which he suffered an early exit at the American Boxing Confederation Championships in Guayaquil, Ecuador, in March of last year.

“This is a great chance for me to fly the flag again and hopefully make up for the last time in Ecuador when things didn’t go my way at all,” said Roach, who lost on points in the three-round super-welterweight Preliminary Round against the vastly more experienced Jhonatan Conceição de Oliveira Soares, of Brazil.

“I feel like I’ve grown a lot since then and learnt from my mistakes. I’m expecting to come up against some tough fighters but I’m feeling good and I’m confident of putting on a strong performance. This is my first international event of 2023 and so hopefully it will be a good start for the bigger events coming up.”

Roach will be joined by Gabriel Curiel, Bruce Perinchief and Annan Zuill at the regional tournament in Bahamas.

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Published March 02, 2023 at 7:41 am (Updated March 02, 2023 at 7:41 am)

Adrian Roach remains focused on World Championships amid mounting boycotts

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