Joy for Ireland as Michael O'Reilly qualifies for Rio Olympics
Middleweight Michael O’Reilly has become the eighth Irish boxer to qualify for the Rio Olympics.
A bronze medallist at the World championships in Doha last autumn, he was desperately unlucky not to secure his Olympic place at the tournament – he controversially lost a third place play-off.
However, he put that disappointment behind him today at the qualifying tournament in Baku when he fashioned a unanimous 3-0 win over Azeri middleweight Kamran Shakhsuvarly.
O’Reilly knew he had to be at his best to impress the judges and that’s exactly what the southpaw did. He won the opening two rounds on all three judges’ card to virtually wrap up the fight.
All he needed to do in the third stanza was to stay out of trouble and although he lost the final round it didn’t impact on the overall result with the Irishman getting the verdict 29-28 across all three judges’ cards.
He now joins Paddy Barnes, Brendan Irvine, Michael Conlon, David Oliver Joyce, Steven Donnelly, Joe Ward and Katie Taylor on the team for Rio.
This is Ireland’s biggest ever boxing team at the Olympics since pre-qualifying was introduced prior to the Barcelona Games in 1992.
Super heavyweight Dean Gardiner continues his bid to join his colleagues when he fights Alexi Zavatin from Moldova tomorrow in the semi-final. He must win the tournament in order to secure a place.
Finally, former European champion Ray Moylette competes in the final qualifying tournament in Venezuela next month where he will be bidding for a spot in the light welter weight category.