Saturday 10 December 2016

Ireland's Brendan Irvine faces box-off for Rio after tough loss in Turkey

Sean McGoldrick

Published 15/04/2016 | 16:50

15 April 2016; Narek Abgaryan, Armenia, left, exchanges punches with Brendan Irvine, Ireland, during their Men's Flyweight 52kg Semi-Final bout. AIBA 2016 European Olympic Qualification Event. Samsun, Turkey. Picture credit: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE
15 April 2016; Narek Abgaryan, Armenia, left, exchanges punches with Brendan Irvine, Ireland, during their Men's Flyweight 52kg Semi-Final bout. AIBA 2016 European Olympic Qualification Event. Samsun, Turkey. Picture credit: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE

NINETEEN year old Belfast flyweight Brendan Irvine has failed to secure automatic qualification for the Rio Olympics.

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Despite a storming final 30 seconds from Irvine he could have few complaints about dropping a unanimous 3-0 verdict to a 24 year old Armenian opponent Narek Abgaryan.

But Irvine will get another chance to secure his place in Rio in a box-off tomorrow and if he can reproduce the form he showed in the closing stages of the fight he can secure the win he needs.

The first round was very tactical; both fighters were very tentative but crucially Abgaryan upped the pace in the last minute and caught the Irishman with a couple of right and it was enough to give him the round.

He bounded out of the corner for the second round and put Irvine under pressure straight away and scored regularly and not surprisingly it he got the round.

Now leading 20-18 on all three judges’ card he was on his way to Rio provided he avoided a knock-out in the final round.

Predictably he spent most of the three minutes on the back foot but Irvine finally threw caution to the wind and went after him in the last 30 seconds.

He landed a succession of blows which had Abgaryan looking to the referee for assistance and he was fortunate not to receive a standing count but he survived and won on a  30-27; 29-28, 29-28 score.

Irvine will now Bulgarian flyweight Daniel Asenov in the box-off – the latter lost 3-0 to Great Britain’s Muhammad Ali in the other semi-final.

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