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Walsh fears pro game will hit Irish numbers at Olympics

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Ireland's head coach Billy Walsh

Ireland's head coach Billy Walsh

Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE

Ireland's head coach Billy Walsh

Ireland's head coach Billy Walsh warned that the road to Rio 2016 is paved with difficulties that will make qualification for the next Olympics a major challenge.

Boxing is Ireland's most successful Olympic sport with 16 medals gained by Irish competitors, and as much as Walsh wants that to continue, the route to qualifying doesn't get any easier with each passing Games.

"It's going to be tough. From Athens (2004) on, it's got more difficult," Walsh said.

"Some of the spots now are going to APB (AIBA Pro Boxing) and WSB (World Series of Boxing) so there's less spots available."

Meanwhile, Walsh and IABA officials are waiting to hear whether Jason Quigley will remain as an amateur or join the professional ranks.

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Middleweight Quigley (22) from Ballybofey in Donegal, won gold at the European Amateur Championships and was the first Irishman to win a silver medal at the AIBA World Amateur Championships last year.

He is hot property for professional managers and promoters, but Walsh is not pressing the issue regarding the boxer's intentions.

"We left him to his own devices. The Olympic Games is a big bait. He has to make a decision," Walsh continued.

"As far as I know, he's training for the Nationals. I haven't heard otherwise.

"There's supposed to be some offers on the table. He has to look at it and weigh it up – does he want to go to the Olympic Games?

"His value will increase having been at a Games, and he will get a lot of profile and marketing out of the Games if he does well at it.

"If there's interest really in him, he'd wait for the sake of two years."

Irish Independent