Saturday 24 September 2016

Former Ireland boxing coach Billy Walsh: 'Worst I've seen since Seoul shame'

Boxing's Olympic future on line, warns Billy Walsh after Conlan 'robbed'

Published 17/08/2016 | 02:30

Michael Conlan makes his feelings known after his controversial defeat to Vladimir Nikitin yesterday. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Michael Conlan makes his feelings known after his controversial defeat to Vladimir Nikitin yesterday. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Michael Conlan walked away from a sport mired in corruption claims yesterday, declaring flatly "Olympic boxing is dead".

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The last Irish boxer standing at these Games bowed out without a medal having been controversially deemed the loser of a bantamweight contest against Russia's Vladimir Nikitin that has heightened concerns about the probity of judging in Rio.

Those concerns, flagged two weeks ago in an English newspaper, became the prime topic of debate at Riocentro Six yesterday as Conlan's Olympic dream collapsed in emotional and angry scenes.

An infuriated Conlan branded the judges "cheating bast**ds" after and declared the governing AIBA "corrupt".

His defeat brought the curtain down a horror Olympics for the Irish boxing team.

Billy Walsh, the current US and former Irish head coach, described the judging as the worst he's seen since the infamous Games of '88 when Roy Jones Jnr lost a scandalous verdict to local boxer Park Si-Hun.

Walsh competed in Seoul and, after seeing two of his US boxers suffer verdicts similar to Conlan's in the last 24 hours, he declared last night: "People don't remember how bad the corruption was, but it feels like we're heading back in that direction again. The sport has to do something about it, otherwise it's going to be thrown out of the Olympics."

Conlan, the reigning World, European and Commonwealth bantamweight champion, is expected to join his brother Jamie in the professional ranks now.

The manner of his defeat was condemned in an IABA statement last night, CEO Fergal Carruth saying: "Two of our boxers were clear winners. Michael, more worryingly, lost out on a phenomenal decision."

Irish Independent

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