BOXING: Joe Ward and David Oliver Joyce are both two wins away from qualifying for the 2016 Olympic Games.
The Irish duo experienced mixed fortunes in their AIBA Pro Boxing (APB) bouts in Bulgaria and Kazakhstan last night to decide who they'll meet in the next phase.
Ward beat Bulgarian light-heavy Spas Genov, a former professional, on a unanimous decision (58-56, 58-55, 59-55) in Sofia to improve to three wins from four outings in the inaugural APB season. However, Joyce (pictured) was edged out on a majority decision (59-55, 57-56, 58-56) by Russian lightweight Dmitry Polyanskiy in Astana.
"I thought David did enough. He worked more and blocked a lot of his shots. We thought we had it," said Billy Walsh, who was working Joyce's corner in Central Asia.
Ward, who had Eddie Bolger working his corner last night, and Joyce are Ireland's only APB fighters. The top two ranked boxers (finalists) in each APB weight will qualify for Rio.
Meanwhile, Paddy Barnes will meet Anthony Ortiz in Palermo tonight when he lines out for Italia Thunder against Puerto Rico in the World Series of Boxing (WSB).
Michael Conlan fights for the Italian side against Garibaldy Gomez.
Seventeen direct Olympic places are up for grabs in the WSB. The top-ranked APB and WSB boxers who do not qualify directly for Rio 2016 will box off for Olympic places.