Saturday 21 April 2018

Draw spares Walsh prospect of ending nephew's Olympic dream

Billy Walsh
Billy Walsh

Sean McGoldrick

Former Ireland head coach Billy Walsh has avoided the nightmare scenario of having to plot the downfall of his nephew Dean at the Olympic Games qualifying tournament in Baku.

Wexford light-welterweight Dean Walsh has been drawn in the opposite half of the draw to American rival Gary Russell, who is now coached by Walsh.

The pair could clash in the latter stages of the tournament, but by then the five Olympic slots available in the 64kg category will have been decided.

Walsh will make his debut in the tournament on Sunday when he meets Smetov Ismetov from Bulgaria in a last 64 contest.

Heavyweight Darren O'Neill will be the first Irish boxer in action in the qualifiers. He faces Mustafa El Molla from Sweden in the first round tomorrow.

O'Neill must win the gold medal in Baku to secure his place in Rio.

Likewise, Dean Gardiner has to win the super heavyweight tournament to make it to the Games.

He received a bye in the first round and steps into the ring on Sunday against either Kaho Raikadroka from Tonga or Satish Kumar from India.

World bronze medallist Michael O'Reilly is the No 1 seed in the middleweight category.

Needing a top five finish to secure his place on the team for Rio, the Portlaoise boxer will meet the winner of a first-round tie between Andreas Kokkinos (Cyprus) and Vitalia Dandarenka (Belarus) on Monday.

Meanwhile, current World Elite lightweight champion Estelle Mossely is due to arrive in Dublin today with the French squad for a training session with their Irish male and female counterparts.

Mossely beat Katie Taylor in the semi-finals en route to gold at the World Elite Championships in Kazakhstan last month.

Irish Independent

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