Irish Olympic hopefuls to go head-to-head in pivotal box off
Olympic hopefuls Dean Walsh and Ray Moylette will clash in a mouth-watering box off in the National Stadium on next Monday night (7pm).
World bronze medallist and European Games champion Michael O’Reilly will also take part in a box-off in the middleweight division against Conor Wallace. The two winners will represent Ireland at the next Olympic qualifying tournament in Baku in June.
While the IABA have yet to announce that the box-offs are taking place, Mayo native Moylette confirmed this afternoon that he will face Walsh on Monday night.
Their clash is a repeat of their epic encounter in the National Elite final last December which Walsh – a nephew of former Irish National coach Billy Walsh – prevailed on a controversial majority decision. An angry Moylette declared afterwards that he would never box in the National Stadium again.
Walsh himself then endured a controversial majority decision loss at the European Olympic in Turkey against the number one seed Lorenzo Sotomayor, a Cuban born light welterweight who now represents Azerbaijan.
Meanwhile, O’Reilly was desperately unlucky not to secure his Olympic place at the World championships in Doha last autumn when he was the victim of a woeful decision in a box off against a veteran Egyptian middleweight Hosam Abdin.
Then at the European qualifier in Turkey the Portlaoise boxer suffered a shock first round loss to an unheralded Finnish fighter after sustaining an injury in the first round.
There are five Olympics places available in both weight divisions at the qualifying tournament in Baku which gives the winners of Monday night’s box-off a real chance of making the cut for Rio.
In contrast there is only one spot available in both the heavy and super heavy category – the only other categories where Ireland has not qualified a male boxer.
Ireland is likely to be represented by Darren O’Neill and Dean Gardiner in these weight divisions in Baku. Ireland already has a record seven boxers qualified for the Games.