David Oliver Joyce ends frustration to book his place in Rio
David Oliver Joyce buried eight years of frustration to book a ticket for Rio 2016 on the final day of the European Olympic qualifiers in Samsun, Turkey yesterday.
The St Michael's Athy BC lightweight, who was on the wrong end of questionable officiating in the Beijing 2008 and London 2012 qualifiers, beat Turkey's Volkan Gokcek on a split decision in a thrilling box-off for Rio between the losing 60kg semi-finalists at the Black Sea port.
Joyce split the judges in his favour in the first, but Gokcek's counter-punching impressed all three cards in the second to edge the scoring 20-18, 19-19, 19-19 toward the home boxer going into the third and final round.
But the marauding Joyce, detonating combination after combination and walking his man down at every opportunity, took the final frame and the 29-28, 29-28, 28-29 verdict that confirms him as an Olympian.
The 29-year-old is one of the great servants of the sport and has paid his dues 10 times over to Irish boxing at home and abroad over the last ten years.
"It has always been my dream to box at the Olympics. My granny passed away less than a year ago and she always wanted me to become an Olympian," said Joyce.
"I dedicate this win to my granny. It means the world to me. I've been trying since the qualifiers for Beijing in 2007 and for London, and have had a few disappointments.
"I've been chipping away for years. It was tough today, really tough. It was really down to the third round in the end and he wanted it as well. Today I accomplished my dream."
Katie Taylor also won convincingly yesterday, the Olympic champion beating Bulgarian southpaw Svetlana Staneva in a box-off for third position on a unanimous decision.
The win didn't qualify Taylor for Rio. Her last opportunity will be at next month's World Women's Championships in Kazakhstan, where she'll need to finish in the top four.
Outrageously, one judge scored the last round 10-9 against Taylor and another 10-8 for her in a 39-37, 40-35, 40-36 verdict.
Brendan Irvine has also qualified after seeing off Bulgaria's Daniel Asenov in the box-off for third place in the flyweight class.
Taylor admits she'll have to improve next month if she's to defend the Olympic title she won in London in 2012.
"It was a bit strange getting over the disappointment of the semi-finals. I'm going to try and improve over the next few weeks and make things right for the Worlds," she said.
"She was the fourth southpaw I've boxed this week," added Taylor, who was beaten in the semi-finals by Azeri southpaw Yana Alekseevna, who won gold yesterday.
Six Irish boxers are now through to Rio - Joyce, Irvine and Paddy Barnes, Michael Conlan, Steven Donnelly and Joe Ward, who all qualified last year.
Team Ireland are due home from Turkey via Dublin Airport at 3.35pm today.
Taylor, Joyce and Irvine claimed three bronze medals in Samsun and two tickets for the 31st Olympiad.
Hyland suffers early ko in world title bout
It took WBC featherweight champion Gary Russell less than two rounds to dispatch of Ireland's Patrick Hyland in their world title bout in Massachusetts last night.
American Russell, who was making his inaugural title defence since usurping Jhonny Gonzalez, handed the Tallaght man only the second loss of his professional career via a second round TKO at the Foxwoods Resort Casino in the Showtime Boxing main event.
The Washington DC southpaw piled the pressure on Hyland from the first bell, and was near overwhelming in the opening stanza.
The disparity between the pair was even more pronounced in the second round, during which Russell floored Hyland on three occasions before referee Danny Schiavone intervened and stopped the contest.