Saturday 16 December 2017

Boxing: Career-best display puts O'Reilly into World last 16

Bernard O'Neill

IRELAND'S Michael O'Reilly produced a career-best performance to outclass Cuban champ Yunior Boleri at the AIBA World Youth Championships in Baku, Azerbaijan, yesterday.

O'Reilly, who boxes out of the Portlaoise BC, racked up a stunning 11-3 win to march into the last 16 of the tournament where he'll meet Welsh lightweight Mitchell Buckland today.

Belfast light flyweight Ryan Burnett also won yesterday, a 3-1 decision over Italian Manuel Fabrizio booking his ticket into the last 16, but Chris Phelan is out after a 15-6 loss to Shaban Shahpalangov of Azerbaijan.

Commentating on yesterday's action, Irish coach Jim Moore, who is working Ireland's corner along with Jimmy Payne, was full of praise for the Irish trio.

"Michael produced a brilliant final round and his confidence will be sky high," he said. "Ryan was also in top form, but I thought that the score didn't reflect the amount of work that Chris did."

Meanwhile, Moore reckons that Joe Ward has the speed to neutralise Cuban KO specialist Frankie Sanchez in today's last-16 duels. Ward, the current AIBA World Junior champ, meets Sanchez for a place in the quarter-finals and Moore says that the Moate BC clubman is buzzing.

Sanchez advanced to the last 16 with a first-round KO of a Mongolian opponent on Tuesday, while Ward went through Albanian puncher Bekim Vjerdha for a short cut. The fight was stopped in the second round after Ward, who sparred with Sanchez in training camp in Baku last week, opened up an 18-1 lead.

"I feel that Joe's speed will neutralise the Cubans power punching," Moore said. "Having a KO punch is not enough if you can't land it. Joe has the footwork to make the Cuban miss and then punish him. Joe is buzzing and can't wait for the contest to start."

Boxers reaching the semi-finals will qualify for the inaugural Youth Olympics in Singapore in August.

Irish Independent

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