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Billy Walsh Steers USA To First Olympic Boxing Medal In Eight Years As Ward Bows Out

Billy Walsh Steers USA To First Olympic Boxing Medal In Eight Years As Ward Bows Out
By Gavan Casey Updated

In a sporting world now defined by the snowball effect of kneejerk reactions on social media, the sense of crisis surrounding the Irish boxing team was magnified last night as Joe Ward exited to his Ecuadorian opponent - the fourth Irish boxer to bow out, for one reason or another, before the medal stages.

This was compounded, naturally, by Billy Walsh steering the USA to their first Olympic boxing medal since Beijing 2008 in the hours leading up to his former charge's untimely departure.

Where the Irish boat is now considered to be taking on water by internet experts and mainstream media alike, Walsh has been adjudged - by the LA Times no less - to have steadied the ship in America, mentioning on more than one occasion how he has endeavoured to change the culture across the Atlantic from one of mediocrity to the supremacy of old.

Step one, if you could call it that, was completed last night, as 20-year-old light-flyweight Nico Hernandez secured his place in America's first semi-final at any weight in eight years, earning himself at least a bronze medal in the process.

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And in Paddy Barnes' division, no less, not that the Belfast man believes Walsh's absence played a role in his defeat.

At last year's World Championships, under Walsh's tutelage, current Irish Olympian Brendan Irvine beat Hernandez via unanimous decision.

There can be no doubt Walsh's involvement with both women's and men's boxing in the USA will change their fortunes before long. The question - and it is a real one - is whether Ireland's boxers can change the perception that they're nose-diving in the opposite direction without him, starting with Steven Donnelly later today.

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