All Kenny Lally has to do is win his next boxing match and he's virtually guaranteed a spot fighting for Canada in the senior world championships in Kazakhstan in October.
But that's a tall order for the 24-year-old Inner City Boxing Club member from Prince George. His next fight is against an Olympic champion.
Lally is matched against Robeisy Ramirez of Cuba in a 56-kilogram bout on Friday at the Elite Continental boxing championships in Santiago, Chile.
"Ramirez was the 2012 Olympic gold medalist, talk about starting with bang," said Bob Pegues, Lally's Inner City Club coach. "It's a tough start but Kenny is excited. He said, 'When am I ever going to get to fight an Olympic gold medalist.' He's really pumped about this.' He was actually jubilant."
Lally is obviously a huge underdog but he's overcome the odds before. Two years ago at the Elite Continental tournament in Quito, Ecuador, Lally was surprise victor over a Cuban opponent, Marcos Foresta, and Lally went on to capture the 54 kg silver medal. He's one of only three Canadians in international boxing history ever to defeat a Cuban.
There are 10 Canadians entered in the Elite Continental event, which is a single elimination tournament. If Lally loses to Ramirez, he's out of the competition.
"Kenny needs to do well to get invited to the world championships in Kazakhstan, and that's the only worry," said Pegues. "He said, "Everybody last time said I didn't have much of a chance against a Cuban and I won, so I'm going to do the same thing.'"
The criteria for choosing the Canadian team for the world event, Oct. 4-13 in Almaty, Kazakhstan, is based 40 per cent on fitness testing conducted last week at the national team training camp in Montreal and 60 per cent on performances in the Elite Continental tournament.
"Kenny was the top guy in fitness at the camp, so he has all the marks from there, so even a really good showing should get him into the worlds," said Pegues.
• Jag Seehra of Inner City is now into an eight-week training program as he attempts to fight his way back to a national team position. He'll enter the 60 kg weight class competition at the Boxing Canada national championships in Regina, starting Oct. 20.