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What: European Union Championships

Where: Sofia, Bulgaria

When: 7-17 August, 2014

The European Union Championships is a prestigious tournament for elite boxers, and takes place this year in Sofia, Bulgaria, in the same venue which hosted April’s AIBA Youth World Boxing Championships.

Because there is not a continental level event for Europe’s men’s boxers this year, the European Union Men’s Elite Championships is one of their main competitions of 2014.

The Tension and the Drama
Ireland’s EUBC European Continental Champion and AIBA World Boxing Championships bronze medallist Joseph Ward was expected to be one of the biggest stars of this competition, but now cannot take part in Sofia.

Instead, the Irish Light Heavyweight class (81 kg) representative will be London 2012 Olympian Darren O’Neill, and many boxing fans are wondering how well the veteran boxer will do in deputising for Ward.

The Bulgarian national squad will hope to perform well on home soil, but two of their most experienced boxers including former AIBA World Champion Detelin Dalakliev and London 2012 bronze medallist Tervel Pulev will both miss the event.

Without two of their most successful boxers, can Bulgaria conjure up success to keep the home crowd happy in the absence of the two veteran stars?

Ones to watch in the event
France’s Christian M’Billi Assomo has been making a name for himself as one of the most exciting talents on the planet since he claimed the gold medal at the EUBC European Youth Continental Championships in Rotterdam, Netherlands one year ago.

Since then he has joined the elite level, and the 19-year-old French Middleweight class (75 kg) boxer has won many events this year already, including the Gee Bee Tournament, the Chemistry Cup, and the Liventsev Memorial Tournament.

The star has defeated Kazakhstan’s defending AIBA World Champion Zhanibek Alimkhanuly, Russia’s EUBC European Continental Champion Maksim Koptyakov and England’s AIBA World Championships bronze medallist Anthony Fowler during these competitions in the recent months.

One of his main rivals in Sofia will be Hungary’s former EUBC European Continental Champion Balazs Bacskai who has moved up a weight class in the recent months.

Italy’s Vincenzo Mangiacapre has claimed bronze medals in all of the main international events in the recent years, including the London 2012 Olympic Games, the 2011 AIBA World Boxing Championships, and the 2011 EUBC European Continental Championships.

The Italian boxer has moved back to the Light Welterweight class (64 kg), and his biggest rival could be Lithuania’s Evaldas Petrauskas who also won a bronze medal at London 2012.

Facts of the event
According to the final entry list, 131 athletes from 23 nations have registered to take part in the European Union Championships in Sofia.

Besides the host nation, Croatia, England, France, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Moldova, Poland, Spain and Turkey will also send a large delegation of athletes.

History of the event
The first edition of the European Union Championships was held in the city of Strasbourg in France in 2003, while the last competition took place in Odense, Denmark in 2009.

Among the European stars of the last decade, France’s Jerome Thomas, England’s Frankie Gavin, Ireland’s Kenneth Egan and Italy’s Roberto Cammarelle all achieved at least one title in the history of the event.

In the last edition of the European Union Championships, England, Ireland, Germany and Hungary claimed all of the gold medals in Odense.