O’Neill, Conlan and Nevin qualify for London 2012

UPDATE 12pm Wednesday
John Joe Nevin has beaten Orzubek Shaymov which guarantees him a bronze medal at least.

Ireland are guaranteed to have at least three male boxers at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, and with a further qualifier still to come next Spring plus additional places available for those who lost out in last 16 bouts to an eventual champion or runner-up, there could still be as many as 6 to 8 Irish taking part when the 2012 Boxing tournament takes place at the Excel Centre next Summer.

The three who have gone through from these World Championships in Baku being Darren O’Neill , Michael Conlan and John Joe Nevin will now concentrate on trying to win a medal in the days ahead.

Twenty-two-year-old John Joe Nevin , was the youngest of the Irish 2008 Olympic squad in Beijing. Some three years more experienced now he qualified by virtue of a last 16 win against Mongolian bantamweight Otgondalai Dorjnyambuu albeit only after an 18-18 ,often brutal fight.

Nevin, trailed by two at the start of the third and final round, but never gave up and pulled back to 18-18 before being declared the winner on countback.

Nevin’s thoughts after the fight? “. “I said to myself ‘if you can beat him for one round John, forget about the judges, forget about everybody else. Keep picking up the scores’. Once I caught him I knew he was going to jump because he was caught silly. Then I nailed him again and did it, thank God.”

Round by Round scoring: R1, 4-4. R2, 7-9. R3, 7-5 (18-18) – Nevin wins on accepted scores. The wily Orzubek Shatimov of Uzbekistan awaits in Wednesday’s last 8 bout but Nevin hopes to improve on his Bronze at the 2009 Worlds in Milan.,

Paulstown BC southpaw, and former Kilkenny minor hurler, Darren O’Neill knew what to expect when he came up against Bulgarian, Mladen Madev on Tuesday for the duo had meet at the 2010- Europeans in Moscow and then, as now, O’Neill emerged victorious; this time he qualified for London courtesy

of a 19-12 verdict. O’Neill now faces up to Ryota Murata of Japan ,in Wednesday’s quarter finals. He commented: “ Qualifying for the Olympics? – “I’m over the moon — a second Olympics” – “ It’s a dream come true. It’s brilliant,” said the Kilkenny teacher . “This is

what I have been dreaming of since a young, young age. I’m going to enjoy it.”

Round by Round scoring. R1 6-4. R2 7-5. R3 6-3 (19-12) – O’Neill the victor.

A shock defeat though for European Champion and no 2 seed, Joe Ward who went out cruelly on another countback verdict – against Ehsan Rouzbahani of Iran. Any opponent who reaches this stage of the Worlds has to be respected but Ward will have learnt from this defeat . Nine times out of ten

would defeat the Iranian, alas not this time and he will be disappointed not to have done better. That said we must remember he is only 17 and still a ‘novice’ in terms of experience. No reason at all why he should not bounce back and claim a place in the London games whether through the

European qualifier or the “backdoor” system. He remains a terrific prospect in the coming years and a setback at this juncture may in fact prove beneficial in the longer term.

The Moate fighter and Rouzbahani were tied at 15-15 when the final bell tolled but it is the Iranian progresses.

Round by Round scoring: R1, 4-4. R2, 8-4. R3, 3-7 (15-15) – Ward goes out

“I am devastated — I have only myself to blame,” he told reporters later. “I should have stuck to the game plan and I didn’t. I can’t believe that I was beaten.

“Four judges had me winning — one had me losing and I lost on a countback. It’s just devastating.”

If however Rouzbahini reaches the 81Kg final Ward will also qualify for the Olympics, so there will without doubt be many Irish fans supporting the Iranian from hereonin!

Before these Worlds commenced few would have believed that Belfast’s 19 years old flyweight Michael Conlan would qualify for London so soon though he has had a phenomenal season so far in his first year in Senior ranks. Conlan came from behind to beat French 2008 Olympian and 2007 AIBA World bronze medallist, Nordine Ouabaali. The St John Bosco flyweight was behind 6-4 at the end of the first but pulled back to 11-11 going into the third before winning a third successive fight in Baku , 20-17 verdict.

Round by Round scoring: R1, 4-6. R2: 7-5. R3, 9-6 (20-17) – Conlon the winner

His reward is a quarter final today against reigning European champion Andrew Selby of Wales.

As Irish HPU coach, Billy Walsh said later: “There’s a mixture of emotions,” he said. “We’ve reached our target but unfortunately there are a few places that we were unfortunate not have achieved. He went on : “Yeah, we’ve reached our target, we’ve achieved our goal, we’ve another qualifier to go to and

we have a very strong team to go to that qualifier and hopefully we can add to our total there.”

The complex qualifying system applied at these Championships means that two of those boxers defeated in each of the eight weight categories from light-fly to light-heavy will also for London, PROVIDED THAT they were beaten by the eventual gold or silver medallist .

And of course there will be a final opportunity when next Spring’s European championships take place in Turkey. So the Irish who have not made the plane to London this time need not despair.


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