Friday 20 April 2018

'Judges should have gone to Specsavers' - Walsh

Billy Walsh: 'No disrespect to the guy who beat him but O’Reilly boxed the head of him'
Billy Walsh: 'No disrespect to the guy who beat him but O’Reilly boxed the head of him'

Sean McGoldrick

Irish coach Billy Walsh has branded the judging in Michael O'Reilly's Olympic box-off fight as a disgrace.

The Portlaoise middleweight lost on an unanimous 3-0 decision to Egyptian veteran Homas Abdin, but most observers inside the arena were convinced the Irishman had prevailed.

"Those judges need to go to Specsavers," said Walsh. "No disrespect to the guy who beat him but O'Reilly boxed the head off him.

"Maybe it was pre-ordained. I watched the Egyptian's four fights en route to the box-off and I think he lost three of them. Nobody else qualified from Egypt or Africa for the Olympics in Doha.

"The young lad (O'Reilly) is absolutely devastated. Now he has to go to Azerbaijan or Turkey for the qualifiers and we know what happens in those places.

"God knows what will happen in the next six months. Michael has to go through the National championships and he could get injured. He may never get the same chance again. For it to be taken off him in such a manner is a disgrace."

Strangely, for the first time during the championships the scores weren't displayed to the coaches or the journalists after each round.


Abdin won the first two rounds, which gave him an unassailable 20-18 advantage, and while O'Reilly won the last round it mattered little.

"I'm absolutely gutted," said O' Reilly seconds after stepping outside the ring. "I don't know what went on; it's just ridiculous. In my mind I was up and won every round easy. I'm still in shock."

Later he said he was happy to have won a bronze medal on his debut at the World Championships but disappointed that he hadn't secured his passage to Rio.

"It am very disappointed, particularly when the scores weren't shown live. I thought I won every round. I was shocked but at the end of the day it is boxing," added O'Reilly, who vowed to train hard prior to next year's two Olympic qualifiers.

Meanwhile, Joe Ward bids to make it two gold medals at these championships for Ireland when he meets Cuba's two-time World champion Julio Cesar La Cruz in tonight's light-heavyweight showdown.

Ward has already secured his place in Rio, but tonight's opponent is his nemesis.

The 26-year-old is the undisputed top-rated light heavyweight in the world - Cesar La Cruz was named as the AIBA's Boxer of the Year in Doha on Tuesday.

He comfortably beat Ward in the semi-final at the World championships two years ago and goes into the contest as the short-priced favourite.

Irish Independent

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