Thursday 22 June 2017

Michael O'Reilly's Olympic dream on hold after shock loss

Ireland's Michael O'Reilly reacts after being beaten by Hosam Abdin in their Men's Middleweight 75kg Box-Off bout. Picture: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE
Ireland's Michael O'Reilly reacts after being beaten by Hosam Abdin in their Men's Middleweight 75kg Box-Off bout. Picture: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE

Bernard O'Neill

Michael O'Reilly will have to put his Olympic dreams on ice until June after he suffered an injury in his shock defeat to Finland's Ilari Kijala at the European qualifiers for Rio in Samsun, Turkey yesterday.

"My shoulder popped in first round. I threw a jab and he threw a left hook and caught my shoulder, just wasn't able to box with it. So Baku is next for me," said the No 1 seed in the middleweight class after the 30-27, 29-28, 29-28 reversal.

O'Reilly won the gold medal at the inaugural European Games in Baku last year and later claimed a bronze medal at the World championships in Doha.

Indeed, he was desperately unlucky not to secure an Olympic place in Qatar as he clearly beat a veteran Egyptian fighter in a box-off but didn't get the verdict.

Meanwhile, Darren O'Neill forced Sweden's Gabriel Richards into three standing counts in a first-round stoppage last night to set up today's clash with Azeri No 1 seed Abdulkadir Abdullayev, the European Games heavyweight champion.

Earlier yesterday, David Oliver Joyce dismissed the facial cut he suffered against Otar Eranosyan as "just a scratch."

Joyce advanced on a unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28) over the Georgian lightweight to join Katie Taylor, Ceire Smith, Christina Desmond, Brendan Irvine and O'Neill in today's quarter-finals.

The three-time EU champion needed medical attention to a cut near his right eye in the first round with Eranosyan. He faces Vazgen Sufaryants of Belarus today.

"It's just a scratch," insisted the St Michael's Athy BC man. "He was in my face a lot but I nailed him with some big shots. I think he's my toughest opponent. The coaches got the tactics right today. I'm absolutely raring to go."

Today Taylor meets Denmark's Yvonne Rasmussen two wins away from qualifying for successive Olympics.

Rasmussen began boxing in 2001 and has 94 bouts under her belt. She won a Danish welter (69kg) title last year but has dropped two weights to lightweight (60kg).

The 35-year-old also won Golden Girl 64kg gold in 2015. Her only competitive outing at lightweight before Samsun was at the Strandja multi-nations earlier this year where she reached the last-eight.

Wins for any of the Irish male boxers in today's quarter-finals will hand them two shots at qualifying for Rio this weekend as the top three go through. The finalists qualify automatically and the beaten semi-finalists meet in a box-off for the third place.

Women must finish in the top two (reach their finals) to qualify.

Irish Independent

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