Ireland secure two more bronze medals at World Championships
Michael O’Reilly and Michael Conlan both guarenteed themselves bronze medals
Michael Conlan defeated Tayfur Aliyev pf Azerbaijan to guarentee at least World Championship bronze in Doha. Photo: Francis Myers/Inpho
Michael O’Reilly and Michael Conlan will both compete for a final place at the World Championships in Doha on Sunday, while Joe Ward will be in semi-final action on Monday in Doha.
Ireland are guaranteed at least three bronze medals at the Worlds - a record haul - after Ward’s quarter-final 3-0 unanimous points victory over Mikhail Baudhaliavets of Belarus in Doha on Saturday.
“I feel grand,” said Ward after the fight. “I knew it was going to be hard because I boxed him in the European Championships and I knew he was a tough guy.”
The Moate light-heavyweight followed the lead of Conlan and O’Reilly, who claimed wins earlier on Saturday to secure bronze at the least - although there was disappointment for Belfast light-flyweight Brendan Irvine.
Ward, who boxes in the semi-finals against Elshod Rasulov of Uzbekistan, recorded a 30-27 win on all three judges’ card over Baudhaliavets - an opponent the Moate light-heavyweight previously defeated on the way to European Championship gold during the summer.
The 21-year-old is now guaranteed a second World medal having won bronze at the competition in 2013, and a win for Ward on Monday would be enough to seal his place at the Olympic Games next year as the two finalists in the 81kg category qualify for Rio.
“Now that I have two fights under my belt I feel a lot better. I’m nine minutes away from the Olympic Games,” said Ward.
Meanwhile, O’Reilly had looked set to claim an Olympic spot but his status is more complicated due to international governing body AIBA’s convoluted qualification process and it now seems likely that the 22-year-old will have to reach the middleweight final or win a third-place box-off to qualify for Rio.
However, if the Portlaoise native wins his last-four fight on Sunday, he will definitely book his Olympic ticket.
O’Reilly recorded a fantastic win over Kazkhstan’s World middleweight champion Zhanubek Alimhanuly via split decision, 29-28, 29-28, 28-29, after losing the first round.
“He’s the current world champion and he’s a boxer so he likes to make you miss,” said O’Reilly. “I knew what had to do - play a game of cat and mouse and make him feint, make him throw first and that’s what he kept doing,” added the Portlaoise man, who meets Uzbek prodigy Bektemir Melikuziev in the last four on Sunday.
Belfast bantamweight and team captain Conlan today became the first Irishman ever to claim World, Olympic, European and Commonwealth medals by defeating Tayfur Aliyev of Azerbaijan with a dominant 3-0 unanimous deicison, 30-27 win on all three cards. The 23-year-old will meet Dzmitry of Belarus in the last four on Sunday.
“We just had the right tactics today and it was an easy enough fight. I felt in control and I wasn’t worried at all in there,” said Conlan.
There was disappointment for light-flyweight Irvine, however, as he lost a 3-0 unanimous decision to Cuban Joahnys Argilagos.