Conlan backs Katie to bounce back from defeat
Katie Taylor will bounce back from her first defeat in five years to Azerbaijan's Yana Alekseevna at the European Olympic qualifiers in Samsun, Turkey, according to her Irish team-mate Michael Conlan.
Alekseevna beat the Bray woman on a unanimous decision - 39-37 across the board. Italy's Irma Testa edged Bulgaria's Svetlana Staneva in the corresponding semi-final.
David Oliver Joyce and Brendan Irvine also lost their bids to qualify for Rio yesterday after dropping decisions to Britain's Joe Cordina and Armenia's Narek Abgaryan in the light and fly classes on a desperately disappointing day for Irish boxing.
Cordina took the first round against Joyce, but Irish team manager Joe Hennigan described the scoring in the second round - where two judges opted for the Welsh fighter despite Joyce rocking his opponent with three massive rights and looking as if he was going to stop him - as totally shocking.
But both Irvine and Joyce will have a second shot at qualifying today and tomorrow versus Bulgaria's Daniel Asenov and Turkey's Volkan Gokcek in box-offs between the beaten semi-finals to decide the third-placed berths for Rio.
Taylor, meantime, sportingly congratulated her opponent. She said: "I'm obviously very disappointed. She's a fantastic boxer and you can't take it away from her. She deserved it today.
"There's very little between the two of us really and the difference between winning and losing is marginal.
"I don't know what went wrong today. It was just one of those days."
Alekseevna and Testa have now qualified for Rio by virtue of reaching the final. Both women clash in tomorrow's gold medal fight, while Taylor and Staneva box off for third place.
Conlan, the only Irish boxer to claim a World Elite title besides Taylor, believes the Olympic champion will book a Rio place at next month's World Championships in Kazakhstan, where a top-four finish will suffice.
The Belfast bantam, who has qualified for Rio, said: "She came back a hundred times stronger after her last defeat five years ago and won an Olympic gold medal.
"The same thing is going to happen again. The work she puts in is phenomenal.
"I don't know anyone more dedicated than her. She'll bounce back, I know it.
"All the best lose, Muhammad Ali, Sugar Ray Leonard, Sugar Ray Robinson. They lose, but they come back stronger and so will Katie."