Darren O’Neill closes on sixth Elite crown

London Olympian Darren O’Neill is weighing up his options after edging a step closer to his sixth Elite title at the National Stadium in Dublin on Saturday night.
Darren O’Neill closes on sixth Elite crown

The Kilkenny southpaw beat Stephen Lawrence in the heavyweight quarter-finals on a unanimous decision to set up a last-four clash with Ulster’s Stephen McMonagle.

It’s going to be a busy week for the Paulstown BC leftie, as he and nine other Irish boxers will be available for selection in the World Series of Boxing (WSB) foreign boxers draft in Lausanne, Switzerland tomorrow. World Elite champion Michael Conlan, Paddy Barnes, Adam Nolan, Sean McComb, Steven Donnelly, Sean McGlinchey, Myles Casey, Brendan Irvine, Dean Gardiner are also available for the draft.

Defending WSB light-fly champion Barnes, however, said last week that he may withdraw his name as he is not guaranteed a fight and the prize money for wins — €2,000 — is “terrible.”

Meanwhile, Jason McKay, Conor Wallace, Eddie Byrne, Sean McGlinchey, JP Delaney, Stephen McMonagle, Kiril Afansev and Bernard O’Reilly all won their last-eight fights at the National Stadium on Saturday night.

Elsewhere over the weekend, Team Ireland secured one gold, two silver and two bronze medals at the European Youth Championships in Kolobrzeg, Poland.

The haul saw Ireland finish second in the rankings table and third in the medals table — a highest ever finish for Irish boxing at this level — at the 38-nation tournament.

Michael Nevin, who beat Russia’s World Youth champion Bibert Tumenov in the semi-finals, won gold after Azeri welter Ruslan Rustamov pulled out of Saturday’s final with an injury.

Stephen McKenna and James McGivern were unlucky to lose out in their finals with Azerbaijan’s Ruslan Rustamov and Denis Gashi, while Willie Donoghue and John Joyce secured bronze in Kolobrzeg.

McKenna, Donoghue and Joyce will make their Elite debuts at the National Stadium over the next two weeks.

Meanwhile Ireland’s Steven Donnelly could be on his way to the Rio Olympics — if Russia opt for Andrey Zamkovoy in the welterweight class.

Zamkovoy beat Radzhab Butaev in Russia’s national final in Samara yesterday, and Russia must confirm their welterweight for Rio 2016 to the International Boxing Association by this Friday’s December 4 deadline.

Butaev and Zamkovoy earned Olympic quota places for Russia through the World Series of Boxing (WSB) and AIBA Pro Boxing (APB) earlier this year, both at welter.

Donnelly finished fourth in the WSB. The top two qualify for Rio. Morocco’s Mohammad Rabii topped the WSB but also qualified for Rio at the World Elites in Qatar. He must take the Qatar Olympic place.

That bumped Ballymena welter Donnelly, who boxed for the Hussars of Poland in the WSB, up to third, with Butaev and Azeri Parviz Baghirov first and second.

However, if the Russians opt for Zamkovoy, Donnelly will, in regards to Olympic qualification, move into the top two.

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