‘Scratch’ won’t hinder confident David Oliver Joyce at Olympic qualifiers

Three-time EU champion David Oliver Joyce has dismissed concerns over a facial cut at the European Olympic qualifiers in Samsun, Turkey yesterday as “just a scratch”.

The Irish Elite champion advanced on a unanimous decision — 29-27 across the board — over Georgian lightweight Otar Eranosyan to join Katie Taylor, Ceire Smith, Christina Desmond, Brendan Irvine, and Darren O’Neill in today’s quarter-finals.

O’Neill forced Sweden’s Gabriel Richards into three standing counts in a first round TKO last night to set up a last-eight duel with Azeri No. 1 seed Abdulkadir Abdullayev, the current European Games heavyweight champion. But Michael O’Reilly, the No. 1 seed in the middleweight class in Samsun, will have to put his Olympic dreams on ice after a shoulder injury saw him crash out to Finland’s Ilari Kijala yesterday on a 30-27, 29-28, 29-28 decision.

“My shoulder popped in first round. I threw a jab and he threw a left hook and caught my shoulder, I just wasn’t able to box with it. So Baku is next for me, the last qualifier in June,” said O’Reilly.

Pat Ryan, president of the Irish Athletic Boxing Association, who is O’Reilly’s coach at the Portlaoise BC, is confident that the European Games champion will be back for the Baku, the final qualifier for regular amateur boxing.

“Michael picked up a shoulder injury, that’s boxing and we’re all disappointed. He’ll bounce back from this, he always does. The team are doing tremendously and we look forward to further success,” he said.

Earlier yesterday, Joyce needed medical attention to a cut near his right eye in the first round with Eranosyan, who he beat in 2014.

He faces Vazgen Sufaryants of Belarus this afternoon.

“It’s just a scratch,” insisted the St Michael’s Athy BC man, who is signed with AIBA Pro Boxing, in relation to the cut.

“The last time I beat him it was messier, but I stuck to my boxing this time. He was in my face a lot but I nailed him with some big shots.

“I think he’s my toughest opponent. The coaches got the tactics right today. I’m absolutely raring to go, I have a great training camp behind me and can’t wait to get in the ring tomorrow.”

Meanwhile, Taylor meets Denmark’s Yvonne Rasmussen early this evening two wins away from qualifying for successive Olympics.

Rasmussen began boxing in 2001 and has 94 bouts under her belt.

She won a Danish welter (69kg) title last year but has dropped two weights to lightweight (60kg).

The 35-year-old also won Golden Girl 64kg gold in 2015.

Her only competitive outing at lightweight before Samsun was at the Strandja multi-nations earlier this year where she reached the last-eight.

Wins for any of the Irish male boxers today will hand them two shots at qualifying for Rio this weekend as the top three go through.

Likewise, the finalists qualify automatically and the beaten semi-finalist meet in a box-off for the third place. Women must finish in the top two (reach their finals) to qualify.


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