Boxing

18 Minutes In Venezuela To Decide Ray Moylette's Rio Dream

18 Minutes In Venezuela To Decide Ray Moylette's Rio Dream

If Ray Moylette gets to the Olympics - he will have got there the hard way. At around 9 o'clock tomorrow night (Irish time) in Vargas in Venezuela, Moylette step into the ring against Hovhannes Backrov of Armenia. Moylette only needs to win two fights in Venezuela to qualify, but nothing is ever straightforward for the 26-year-old Mayoman.

Moylette is not too worried about the Zika virus. He's had to pay someone to take over his Stingray fitness business in his native Westport while he puts it all on the line to get the chance to go to Rio. A chance he thought might never come. There might not be a more popular athlete in Mayo than Moylette - earlier on today he was even mentioned from the pulpit in Knock!

A few weeks ago he thought he was going to fight Dean Walsh in a box-off to go to the penultimate Olympic qualifier. Moylette and Walsh had previously met in the last two National Elite finals - with controversial decisions going in Walsh's favour on both occasions.

But Zaur Antia and his team decided to call that proposed fight off with 48 hours notice and to base their decision on a Azerbaijani training camp instead. After the camp, the coaches chose Walsh - who subsequently took part in the qualifiers in Baku but was unsuccessful.

That meant that Moylette got a last-minute reprieve. Had Walsh qualified - the Wexford man would have taken the last slot available. But after Walsh was eliminated - Moylette's eligibility for the very last qualifier - because he took part in the AIBA Pro Boxing series - kicked in. Walsh didn't have that option.

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But even then - it's not a straightforward Olympic qualifier for Moylette. This is the first ever Olympic qualifier that professionals are eligible for - and even though he only has to win two fights to qualify for Rio (three out of the seven boxers at Moylette's 64kg light-welterweight division qualify) he might have to face one of two experienced pros to get to Rio.

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Italian Massimiliano Ballisai doesn't look to be a world-beater as he's aged 31 and has a record of 20 wins and three losses. But the Paraguayan professional, Carlos Manuel Portillo, is unbeaten in his 18 fights so far, is the national champion of Paraguay and could be anything.

But two wins... That's all he needs. 18 minutes in Venezuela to decide Ray Moylette's Rio dream and become the ninth and final Irish boxer to qualify.

Moylette's career has been a rollercoaster - as he told Balls.ie in an explosive interview a few weeks ago.

The only person that can beat me... is me. I know I've been very up and down – I've won European gold but lost in Mayo championships. My whole career is up and down. But I know at my best there is no-one who would beat me.

Moylette landed in Venezuela on Thursday - and certainly arrived with a bang.

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Moylette is not lacking in support from his fellow boxers either...

We'll keep you updated.

Read More: Ray Moylette: Doing It My Way And Still Olympic Dreaming

H/T: Sharon McGing for setting us straight on the times! Cheers Sharon

Paul McNulty
Article written by
Admirer of all things Stephen Ireland. Comparatively lesser interests in Mayo football, horse racing, athletics and boxing.

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