EBONIE JONES steps up to youth level for the first time today at a jam-packed Nations’ Cup.
Heart of Portsmouth’S (HOP) European champion will get her campaign under way in Serbia in a tournament swamped with top amateurs from across the globe.
There are 277 boxers involved in total, with 57 youth boxers in Jones’ section.
The 16-year-old has been given a bye to the quarter-final stage today, with 10 boxers in action at her weight.
Amateur powerhouse nation Kazakhstan have swamped the event with a whopping 47 entries.
Host nation Serbia have sent 23 entries, with Russia (21), India (16) and Hungary (15) all extremely well represented.
Jones’ already has excellent international pedigree after picking up European and EU titles on top of a string of other successes.
HOP head coach Q Shillingford explained it will be new territory for her, though, as she steps up to face older boxers in the youth section – which is stretched across a two-year bracket.
Shillingford said: ‘It’s a tournament format and Ebonie has been given a bye. So she is into the quarter-finals today.
‘She normally has to box all the way through so that makes a change for her.
‘There are 277 people involved and 57 people in the youth section.
‘There are 10 people in her weight.
‘Kazakhstan have sent 47 boxers to the tournament, and they are arguably the lead nation in amateur boxing.
‘They have come in very strong and will be looking for a whitewash and to dominate.
‘They are taking it massively seriously and then there are Russia and India.
‘The eastern European countries are often dominant and they are sending big numbers.
‘Ebonie has gone up to the youth section and that will make a big difference.
‘They are older, stronger and more experienced.
‘Ebonie won’t be overawed, though, so it’s exciting stuff for her.’
Shillingford explained Jones’ preparations have allowed her to be in ideal condition for international competition.
The Mountbatten Centre has stepped in to support the World Championship bronze medallist and multi-national champion with full use of their track, pool and gym facilities.
And HOP coach, Colin Williams, ensured Jones fine-tuned her work in the ring with some top-drawer sparring at highly-regarded London outfit Fitzroy Lodge.
Now it’s all about stepping into the ring and delivering at 51kg.
Shillingford added: ‘Ebonie has trained so hard and was bang on weight before she flew out.
‘She has been given really good support by the Mountbatten Centre.
‘Ebonie can use the track there, and all the gym and pool facilities.
‘It has made a massive difference and shows great support for boxing is coming from across the city.
‘The sparring in London was top-drawer, too. It was six rounds at pace against fresh boxers. She more than held her own up there.
‘It’s all worked out to ensure she is totally prepared for Serbia.’