Sunday 17 December 2017

Bolger backs Joyce to make most of 'last opportunity'

David Oliver Joyce celebrates after beating Andrique Allisop of Seychelles. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
David Oliver Joyce celebrates after beating Andrique Allisop of Seychelles. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Vincent Hogan

Vincent Hogan

Irish coach Eddie Bolger is backing lightweight David Oliver Joyce to defy the seedings and book himself an Olympic quarter-final place tonight.

The St Michaels Athy boxer faces a quick turnaround after Sunday's winning debut to step back into the ring against celebrated Azerbaijan veteran and No 2 seed Albert Selimov (9.45pm Irish time).

Victory would secure Joyce a medal fight on Friday, a fairytale prospect for the 29-year-old who needed eight attempts in various qualifying tournaments to finally become an Olympian.

Read more: Joyce debut well worth waiting for

"It's going to be a very close fight, fifty-fifty," predicted Bolger. "If you look back on Davy's record, he's beaten some world-class opponents. There's not many beat him over three three-minute rounds. Selimov's record speaks for itself, but he's pushing on as well."

Although one of Europe's most decorated amateurs, most of Selimov's successes were achieved while boxing for the Russian federation and at featherwight, a division no longer included in the Olympic schedule.

He took gold at the 2007 World Championships in Chicago, beating legendary Ukrainian Yasyl Lomanchenko in the final, and is also a dual European featherweight champion.

Transferring his allegiance to Azerbaijan in time for last year's European Games in Baku, Selimov also won gold, yet there have been growing suggestions that he might be a fighter slipping into gentle decline now.

Joyce sparred him a number of times in Baku before the last World Olympic qualifier, and Sean McComb, who Joyce beat in the National Elite finals last December, was unlucky to drop a split decision to Selimov at last year's World Championships in Doha.

Bolger believes tonight's battle will thus be a fight with few secrets.

"Look, we could paint Davy's tactics on the front of this building," he smiled.

"It'll be pressure, pressure, pressure and we'll see where it goes. He (Selimov) likes to make things easy for himself, he likes to control. We're going to try and take him out of his comfort zone.

"Spars are different, I know. You don't show everything and Davy didn't show everything. I really give him a big chance. But I'd give Davy a chance against anybody. I'm honestly looking around the dressing-rooms and this lad is tipped to win, that lad is tipped to win. . . and I'm 'You beat him twice, Davy!'

"'How about that lad?

"'Yeah I beat him in the APB!'"

Joyce was impressive in his opening bout against the awkward, if limited Seychelles fighter Andrique Allisop, but knows he will have to raise his game considerably to beat Selimov. Bolger believes that he will try to attack Joyce in tonight's opening round, so composure and patience could be the key.

Read more: Lightweight David Oliver Joyce into second round in Rio following dominant display

"We can sacrifice the first round if need be," he said. "As long as we catch him before the finish line. . . that's the plan with Davy usually. Look, Selimov is a good man. I don't know which one is coming to the end of the line quicker, Davy or him (laughing).

"They're both hardy. But this is the best year Davy's ever had. The best two years maybe. So I'd give him every chance. Watch this space, it's going to be very tight."

Joyce himself is adamant that he has the relentless pressing game to unsettle Selimov this evening, suggesting: "I know exactly what he's bringing to the table and he knows what I'm bringing.

"It's taken me nine years to get to this stage and I'm determined to make the most of it. You know I thought my dream had gone. This is my last opportunity to do something at the Olympic Games."

Irish Independent

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