David Oliver Joyce into semi’s at Olympic Test

A fine win for David Oliver Joyce, the St Michael’s Athy lightweight here at the Olympic Test boxing tournament at the Excel Centre in London’s Docklands but Dublin’s Declan Geraghty suffered a one point defeat in his quarter final against former Athens 2004 silver medallist and current Asian Games champion, Worapoj Petchkoom of Thailand. Petchkoom lost in Athens only to Cuban superstar Guillermo Rigondeaux, now a professional.

Joyce had a 12:8 win against Italy’s Donato Consenza and now meets Eugen Burhard of Germany in Saturday’s semi-final. Joyce led 5:3 at end of round one and held an 8:6 lead entering the third and final round here. He took that round 4:2 to end up a worthy winner.
There was heartache though for Geraghty – he too was 5:3 up as the bell tolled for end of round one but the much more experienced Petchkoom drew level at 9:9 at end of the second frame and forged ahead to take the final round 4:3 and the contest 13:12.

Joyce, and Irish team mates, Ken Egan, Conrad Cummings, Tommy McCarthy and Con Sheehan are all involved in semi-final bouts at the ExCel Centre on Saturday.

No Irish competitor in the women’s events but a busy day nonetheless and some excellent bouts here too.

Arguably the best women’s bout of the day was the clash between Quanitta Underwood of the United States and Great Britain’s Natasha Jonas from the Rotunda Club in Liverpool . Though she has not fought in GB before now, Underwood is well respected and best known for her epic comeback against Katie Taylor in the World Championship semi-final in Barbados in September 2010.

Who will ever forget that remarkable comeback, especially the final round? No Katie Taylor to contend with this week since the latter is taking a well-deserved rest after some 25 bouts already in 2011. No Sofya Ochigava either.

60kg – Natasha Jonas v Quanitta Underwood (USA) 23:15

Today, a series of excellent straight shots saw Natasha race into a 5-2 first round lead ; she continued the good work in round two stretching her lead to 11-7 at the end of the second. Underwood never gave up and ‘chased’ Jonas around the ring in rounds three and four but to little avail, as the Rotunda ABC boxer ended up winning 23-15 . Round by round scores: (Jonas first): 5:2 6:5 5:4 7:4

Having seen Jonas in action at both 60kg and 64kg(latter at the recent European Championships in Rotterdam, I can say today was probably her best performance yet . She is coming into top form at the right time but there remains no guarantee that she will even be the GB representative in London 2012.

Only last weekend, Hartlepool’s Amanda Coulson had a fine win over Chantelle Cameron to win the GB Championship at the York Hall. It seems unlikely that Team GB will nominate a boxer to take part in the only Olympic qualifier in China until early in the Spring and before that there just might even be a “box-off” between Coulson and Jonas.

When the two met in the 2010 GB Final in Cardiff, Jonas won literally with the last punch in the contest. For Underwood it will have been another disappointment following her recent loss in the Pan American Championships but it is early days yet and she has plenty of time to get back to that form which so nearly caused a sensation in Barbados.

75kg – Savannah Marshall v Naomi Fischer-Rasmussen (Australia) 23:11

This was another excellent performance from the “Silent Assassin” as Marshall is affectionately known, since she rarely says much as media briefings but lets her boxing speak for itself in the ring. Today she had a convincing win over the Australian champion, Naomi Fischer-Rasmussen and though the loser fought a gallant fight there was not much doubt as to who would win . A good opening round saw Marshall take a 5-3 lead. That lead was stretched to 10-4 by end of round two as Marshall took charge.

Savannah was too powerful for the Australian, delivering a standing count in the third, and she ran out a very convincing 23-11 winner. Yet we have still to see the best of Marshall. She is still coming to terms with having moved up a weight. She remains an exciting talent who will almost certainly be GB’s representative in London 2012 if she finishes in the top 8 at the Worlds in China.

Cheng Dong (China) v Adriana Araujo (Brazil). 11:10

A very close contest this one and the Brazilian fought a brave battle from start to finish against Cheng Dong, a silver medallist in the last two world championships in Ningbo City and Barbados though defeated on both occasions by Katie Taylor. On balance I can but agree that Cheng Dong was a deserving winner but it was one of those occasions when neither boxer deserved to lose. Round by Round scores (Araujo first): 1:1 5:4 1:3 3:3 so 10:11 overall and Cheng Dong through to tomorrow’s semi-finals in the 60kg.

Big surprise of the day here at Excel was the defeat of five times world champion Mery Kom Hmangte of India in a quarter-final of the flyweight (48-51kg). She lost to Argentina’s Pamela Paoloa Benavides 13:9 and again there can be no doubt as to who was the better boxer ‘on the day’. Certainly we did not see the best of Mery Kom today though no doubt her cause was not helped by the “rumour ” that India was to hold a vote early in December that just MIGHT lead to a boycott by that country of the Olympics in London.

What a tragedy that would be for all Indian athletes none more so than for Mery Kom who has done so much over so many years to promote women’s boxing in her nativeland . India’s other competitor today, Pooja Rani (75kg) lost to Dariga Shakimova of Kazakhstan 14:10 – again no doubt about the winner on the day but one felt that the Indian too was not at her very best.

In other results from day one of the women’s bouts, defeat for GB’s Nina Smith at 51kg against the favourite, Olesya Gladkova (Russia) 19:5

The Russian was simply too strong and put in an excellent performance throughout – Smith trailed 4-1 at the end of the first and the Russian increased her lead to 11-3 in the second. Eventually Gladkova deservedly ran out a 19-5 winner. No doubt about that result either though again the ever improving Smith put up a brave fight.She recently defeated Geesala’s Katie Rowland in London’s York Hall.

That said it is more than likely that the GB representative in the Worlds and Olympic qualifier will be Nikki Adams, who recently won Gold at the European Championships and is probably Team GB’s best hope of a Gold medal in London (IF she qualifies).Adams has been in awesome form in the past few months having made a remarkable recovery from a back injury which only a year ago seemed as if it would result in her having to retire from the sport.


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