Irish-boxing.com are reporting that the IABA have ordered box-offs at light-welterweight and middleweight ahead of next month's final Rio Olympic qualifier in Baku, Azerbaijan.
Portlaoise BC’s Michael O’Reilly and Dean Walsh of Wexford’s St Joseph’s/St Ibars club were sent home from the EUBC qualifiers in Samsun, Turkey last month following a breach of team protocols, with each fighter also receiving a fine of €5,000 (both are carded boxers via tax-funded Sport Ireland).
Neither man qualified for Rio in that Turkish qualifier, and according to Irish Boxing's Joe O'Neill, both will now face box-offs in order to enter next month's qualifier in Baku - in which the top five fighters from every weight will reach the Olympics.
It had been suggested that both the 140lb and 160lb divisions would see eight-man tournaments determine Ireland’s representative for the final qualifier, but instead, the National Stadium will reportedly play host to rematches of this year's Elite finals to decide who'll be on the plane to Baku.
In Samsun last month, Walsh - nephew of former Ireland coach, Billy - dropped a controversial split nod to #1 seed and Cuban-born hometown fighter Lorenzo Sotomayor. Laois man O’Reilly was himself a top seed, but bowed out in a shock first round defeat to Ilari Kujala of Finland, injuring himself early in the contest. The pair were then sent home after an unspecified breach of discipline was unearthed by the IABA.
As first mooted by The Sun's Kev Byrne a fortnight ago, Walsh will now face Mayo's Ray Moylette who he narrowly defeated in December's championships, while O'Reilly will square off with Conor Wallace of Newry - the man who he beat well in his own final. Moylette may well feel he's more than deserving of another shot at Walsh after a couple of high profile, narrow defeats in recent years, but the former is also eligible for the upcoming APB/WSB Olympic qualifier. It's not clear, however, if Moylette plans to participate in that event.
The winners of the Walsh-Moylette and O'Reilly-Wallace box-offs, tentatively scheduled for the Stadium next Monday, will fly to Azerbaijan for the final Olympic qualifier.
Ireland has already qualified a record seven boxers for Rio 2016.
Hat-tip to Joe O'Neill and Irish-boxing.com