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Brennan, Bates and Afanasev advance as rest of Olympic qualifiers in London to take place behind closed doors

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Ireland's George Bates (red) defeats Spain's Leon Becerra Dominguez (blue) during day two of the Boxing Road to Tokyo 2020 Olympic qualifying event at the Copper Box Arena, London.

Ireland's George Bates (red) defeats Spain's Leon Becerra Dominguez (blue) during day two of the Boxing Road to Tokyo 2020 Olympic qualifying event at the Copper Box Arena, London.

PA

Ireland's George Bates (red) defeats Spain's Leon Becerra Dominguez (blue) during day two of the Boxing Road to Tokyo 2020 Olympic qualifying event at the Copper Box Arena, London.

The Irish boxing squad had a fruitful day at the Olympic qualifier in London with the Dublin-based trio of Emmet Brennan, George Bates and Kiril Afanasev advancing but welterweight Christina Desmond was eliminated.

Meanwhile, under mounting pressure over the controversial decision to proceed with the tournament despite the coronavirus pandemic, the organisers announced that the rest of the tournament will take place behind closed doors with all spectators being excluded.

"Due to the changing situation with the coronavirus and concerns for public, athlete and volunteer welfare the IOC Boxing Task Force (BTF) has taken the decision that from Monday 16th March the Boxing Road to Tokyo Olympic qualifying event at the Copper Box Arena will take place behind closed doors. This unfortunately means that no spectators will be permitted to attend the event," according to a statement.

Anybody who has purchased tickets will have their money refunded.

Back in the ring, lightweight George Bates had a dramatic win over his luckless Spanish opponent Leon Dominguez in a last 32 bout.

Bates used his height advantage to telling effect and his jab consistently troubled Dominguez. But a clash of heads near the end of the first round resulted in a premature end of the contest.

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Ireland's Emmet Brennan (red) defeats Bosnia's Radenko Tomic (blue) during day two of the Boxing Road to Tokyo 2020 Olympic qualifying event at the Copper Box Arena, London. Photo: Adam Davy/PA Wire

Ireland's Emmet Brennan (red) defeats Bosnia's Radenko Tomic (blue) during day two of the Boxing Road to Tokyo 2020 Olympic qualifying event at the Copper Box Arena, London. Photo: Adam Davy/PA Wire

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Ireland's Emmet Brennan (red) defeats Bosnia's Radenko Tomic (blue) during day two of the Boxing Road to Tokyo 2020 Olympic qualifying event at the Copper Box Arena, London. Photo: Adam Davy/PA Wire

A nasty bad gash quickly opened-up over the Spaniard's left eye and both fighters were splattered with blood within seconds.

The referee invited the ringside doctor to look at the wound and following her advice he stopped the contest and Bates advanced to a place in the last 16.

With eight slots available in the lightweight category, the Tallaght boxer is one win away from securing an Olympic place but faces a formidable opponent in former World champion Javid Chalabiyev from Azerbaijan.

In the second last fight in the evening session, heavyweight Kiril Afanasev edged out Begadze Nikoloz from Georgia. In a very tight affair Afanasev shaded the first round with four of the five judges giving him the round.

But the Georgian fought back in the second stanza to level the fight. It all came down to the final three minutes of action and the Irish champion did enough to sway four of the judges who gave him a narrow victory (29-28, 29-28, 29-28, 29-28, 28-19).

Earlier, another Dubliner Emmet Brennan outclassed Radenko Tomic from Bosnia-Herzegovina in the light heavyweight division. The referee stopped the contest in the second round after Tomic had taken two standing counts.

Brennan, who boxes out of the Docklands club, now advances to the last 16 where he meets Switzerland's Uke Smajli on St Patrick's Day.

He is two wins away from being guaranteed a slot at the Tokyo Olympics. Even if he loses his quarter-final he will get another chance in a box-off.

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Ireland's Afanasev Kirill (blue) defeats Georgia's Begadze Nikoloz (red) during day two of the Boxing Road to Tokyo 2020 Olympic qualifying event at the Copper Box Arena, London.

Ireland's Afanasev Kirill (blue) defeats Georgia's Begadze Nikoloz (red) during day two of the Boxing Road to Tokyo 2020 Olympic qualifying event at the Copper Box Arena, London.

PA

Ireland's Afanasev Kirill (blue) defeats Georgia's Begadze Nikoloz (red) during day two of the Boxing Road to Tokyo 2020 Olympic qualifying event at the Copper Box Arena, London.

The 81kg division in Irish amateur boxing has been dominated by Kenneth Egan and Joe Ward for more than a decade and a half. But Ward's decision to turn professional late last year gave Brennan an opportunity to showcase his talent.

He will face bigger tests in the day ahead but he clinically dismantled Tomic, who frankly looked out of his depth and was out on the feet at the end of the first round which Brennan won on all five judges’ cards.

There was no joy, however, for Cork welterweight Christina Desmond who went down on a unanimous 5-0 decision to the number three seed from Italy Angela Carini from Italy.

Five Irish fighters will be in action on Monday in the Copper Box Arena.

In the morning session, welterweight Aidan Walsh meets Pavel Kamanin (Estonia) in a last 32 contest while middleweight Michael Nevin takes on Pas der Van (Netherlands). First into the ring will be flyweight Carly McNaul who meets Britain's Charley Davison.

But in the evening session all eyes will be on Rio Olympian and team skipper Brendan Irvine in the flyweight category as he bids to become a two-time Olympian. He meets Hungarian Istavan Szaka.

Later European champion Kurt Walker, the number 2 seed, can book his Olympic slot if he beats Hamsat Shadolov (Germany) who has the advantage of having a win under his belt in London.

Kellie Harrington will meet Poland's Aneta Rygielska in her last 16 lightweight bout on Tuesday. The latter won a silver medal in the light welterweight division at last year’s European championships before dropping down a weight for this event.

Online Editors