The Italians were still smarting after two of their stars, AIBA boxer of the year, Domenico Valentino, and 2007 world heavyweight champion Clemente Rossou had been beaten by Eric Donovan and Con Sheehan, respectively, in the first of two internationals at the National Stadium on Friday night.
And when David Oliver Joyce beat Valentino at the Donegal Celtic Club on Sunday night, they pulled out of the international with seven bouts remaining on the card.
“It was most unsporting and totally uncalled for,” a furious O’Rourke said. “This was becoming a great night’s boxing excellently organised by the Antrim Board and there was no cause for what happened.
“The Italians had been complaining since Friday night when Valentino and Rossou were beaten. Valentino is a great boxer, let there be no doubt about that, but Eric Donovan is on fire at the moment and he beat the Italian fair and square. I don’t think anyone could quibble with the judges.
“They were also furious over their heavyweight but, again, young Con Sheehan gave an exhibition and was deserving of the victory. They could not quibble with either defeat because the Irish boxers were clear winners.
“Then they went to Belfast where they found Olympic bronze medallist, Paddy Barnes in brilliant form. In spite of the fact that he stepped up a division to flyweight to accommodate them, he gave a brilliant exhibition of boxing. There certainly could be no quibble about his victory.
“Our bantamweight, Derek Thorpe, lost to Vittorio Parrinello and we had no quibble with that. Michael Conlon beat Vicenzo Picardi and James Fryers beat Alessio Di Sevino in a very close bantamweight contest.
“But it was when David Oliver Joyce beat Domenico Valentino 8-4 they really got upset. Their manager was furious and pulled the remainder of his boxers out.
“He asked how Valentino, the best boxer in the world, could be beaten and would not accept the fact that Eric Donovan and David Oliver were the better boxers. I pointed out Eric had beaten Valentino before but he said that was when they were juniors and seemed to think that Valentino just could not be beaten.
“From our point of view, it was totally unacceptable because before the show started we called all the judges together as we always do. We had two world-class judges officiating, Mickey Gallagher and Seamus Kelly, and they also had two of their own judges officiating.
“Yet they were complaining about not getting points and about the judging being unfair. They were asking how Valentino could be beaten by what they described as lesser class opponents. It appeared as if they were never going to be satisfied unless the verdict was handed to them.
“The fact of the matter is they were beaten fair and square. We know ourselves what it is like to come out on the wrong side of bad decisions and we always do everything in our power to ensure that it does not happen to visiting teams here.
“This was very unsporting on the part of the Italians. It was unfair to the fans and to the Antrim Board, who had put so much effort into the show. This type of action was totally unwarranted.”
It meant local heroes like Eamon O’Kane, Cathal McMonagle, Jason Quigley, a reigning European junior champion, and fellow Donegal man, Willie McLaughlin, were deprived of contests over the weekend.