Monday 19 February 2018

Joyce brothers square up with Rio the target for Elite contenders

Sibling rivalry: David Oliver Joyce
Sibling rivalry: David Oliver Joyce

Bernard O’Neill

The National Elite Championships give three-time EU lightweight gold medallist David Oliver Joyce an extra option for Rio 2016.

But his younger brother and St Michael’s Athy BC team-mate Hughie will be aiming to limit those options in tonight’s Elite 60kg semi-final at Dublin’ s National Stadium.

David Oliver is signed with AIBA Pro Boxing (APB). Unless a  tournament is part of an Olympic qualification process, APB fighters, who, as their title states, are pro boxers, are banned from competing at national level. Irish boxing chiefs are running the Elites twice this year to assist athletes heading into the AIBA Open Boxing (AOB) – now the official name for amateur boxing – the World Series of Boxing (WSB) and APB qualifiers in 2016.

If David Oliver beats his brother en route to his sixth belt, he’ll stake a strong claim for inclusion on the Irish team for the AOB qualifiers in Turkey next April. However, he’ll also be involved in the APB qualifiers. That’s his other option, if, he stresses, he does the business at the home of Irish boxing. 

“I’m there to win it and he’s there to win it. There’s not much more I can do. He’d be more or less the baby of the family,” said David Oliver. “I’ll just do my own thing, pick off my own shots. If that’s good enough, it’s good enough. The seniors and the qualifiers are my focus.

“I wanted AOB and APB. It gives me the second option,” added Joyce, who has been sparring this week with Gary Cully, whom he beat in the quarter-finals last weekend.

Defending champion Sean McComb, the current European Games bronze medallist, meets George Bates in the corresponding lightweight semi-final tomorrow.

Meanwhile, defending welter and heavy champions and London 2012 Olympians Adam Nolan and Darren O’Neill are between the ropes versus Michael Bustard and Stephen McMonagle tonight.

The securing of a Rio 2016 place by Ballymena welter Steven Donnelly through the WSB this week looks to have severely limited, if not KO’d, Nolan’s ambitions of competing at successive Olympics at 69kg.

“If I don’t win at the Stadium it’s game over anyway,” he said. “Up until then there is no point talking about it. It’s good for Steven, but I have to win at the seniors so there’s no point letting other distractions get in my way.”

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