A look at the fighters who stand between Team Ireland and Olympic qualification

Courtesy of Bernard O’Neill and the IABA

Nine Irish boxers will be back between the ropes battling for Tokyo places when the European qualifiers resume at a date and venue to be confirmed.

The tournament was postponed because of the Covid-19 pandemic on March 16 after three days of competition at the Copper Box Arena in London.

Irish captain Brendan Irvine booked a ticket for his second successive Olympics in London and will also be in quarter-final action versus Spain’s Gabriel Escobar when the qualifiers recommence.

While Irvine and Escobar – and six other flyweights – have achieved their primary objective of qualifying, medals and ranking points for Tokyo 2021 are still up for grabs in the 52kg class.

George Bates and his St Mary’s BC team-mate Kellie Harrington require top-six finishes to qualify, as do Antrim siblings Michaela and Aidan Walsh, Michael Nevin and Emmet Brennan.

Current European champion Aoife O’Rourke, Dean Gardiner and Kiril Afanasev have to finish in the top four (reach the semi-finals).

Bates is within touching distance of Tokyo 2021 as a victory over Azerbaijan’s Javid Chalabiyev will qualify the Dubliner for the 32nd Olympiad.

(Boxers that require a top-six finish will get two shots at qualifying for Tokyo if they win their last 16 bouts, as they’ll qualify automatically if they win their quarter-finals. However, if they lose in the quarter-finals they’ll box-offs with the other beaten quarter-finalists to complete the top-six placings. Boxers that lost in London will, if selected, get a final shot at qualifying at the World qualifiers in Paris at a date to be confirmed).

Boxers qualified for Tokyo 

Boxing2020 – List of qualified boxers as of March 25

Last 16

63kg George Bates (Ireland) v Javid Chalabiyev (Azerbaijan)

(Top 8 qualify)

A Baku native, Javid Chalabiyev was born on 17/05/1992. The Azeri orthodox represented his country at 56kg at Rio 2016 where he lost his first bout on a split decision. An Islamic Solidarity Games and Great Silk Way champion, he won gold at the 2013 World Elites in Kazakhstan and has boxed 235 bouts in his career.

Last 16

69kg Aidan Walsh (Ireland) v Wahid Hambli (France)

(Top 6 qualify)

Wahid Hambli dropped a unanimous decision to Sean McComb at Dublin’s National Stadium in 2017 but beat Wayne Kelly and Italy to finish second in the 69kg class at the Round Robin. Born on the 27/11/1990, he has 123 bouts to his name. He secured double gold at the Bocskai and Strandja multi-nations this year.

Last 16

75kg Michael Nevin (Ireland) v Arman Darchinyan (Armenia)

(Top six qualify)

Yerevan-native Arman Darchinyan was born on the 30/4/1994 and has 140 contests on his book. The Armenian middle finished in 7th place at last year’s World Elites. He was on the wrong end of a unanimous decision to Max Van Der Pas (Netherlands) – who Nevin beat in London last month – at the 2017 European Elites.

Last 16

81kg Emmet Brennan (Ireland) v Uke Smajli (Switzerland)

(Top six qualify)

Born on the 02/1/1993, Uke Smajli is the current Swiss champion with 132 bouts under his belt. The Zurich-native claimed silver at the Feliks Stamm Memorial last year and has competed at the Chemistry Cup and European Games.

Last 16

91kg Kiril Afanasev (Ireland) v Emanual Reyes (Spain)

(Top 4 qualify)

Emanual Reyes was born in Havana on the 14/12/1997 and represented Cuba in the World Series of Boxing. He’s since switched allegiances to Spain and won silver at the Strandja multi-nations this year. The La Coruna-native dropped two decisions to Cuba’s Julio La Cruiz, who edged Joe Ward in two World Elite finals, in his career.

Last 16

91kg+ Dean Gardiner (Ireland) v Petar Belberov (Bulgaria)

(Top 4 qualify)

Sofia-born Petar Belberov (17/02/1990) shaded Dean Gardiner on a 3-2 split decision in the 2017 Tammer multi-nations final in Finland. A 2015 European bronze medallist, the Bulgarian has won gold and silver at the Strandja multi nations over the last number of years.

Last 16

57kg Michaela Walsh (Ireland) v Mona Mestian (France)

(Top 6 qualify)

St Patrick’s Day born (1992) Mona Mestian is a two-time European bronze medallist. The French champion has 113 contests to her name and has also medalled at the European Union Championships. She got the nod over Ireland’s Dervla Duffy on a 2-1 split in 2016.

Last 16

60kg Kellie Harrington (Ireland) v Aneta Rygielska (Poland)

(Top 6 qualify)

A former (2013) World Youth champion, Aneta Rygielska (born 24/8/1999) lost on a unanimous decision to Harrington at the Strandaj multi-nations in Sofia earlier this year. The Polish orthodox also lost to Amy Broadhurst in the preliminaries of the World Elites in Siberia in 2019.

Last 16

75kg Aoife O’Rourke (Ireland) v Viktoriya Kebikava (Belarus)

(Top 4 qualify)

Viktoriya Kebikava (born 01/9/1985) is a two-time European bronze medallist at light-heavy but has dropped down to middle as the limit is one of the five Olympic weights for women. The Belarussian beat Ireland’s Leona Houlihan en route to bronze at the 2019 World Military Games in China.

(Dates on below draw sheets are from before the European qualifiers for Tokyo in London were postponed on March 16).

Michaela Walsh

Kellie Harrington

Aoife O’Rourke

Brendan Irvine (qualified)

George Bates

Aidan Walsh

Michael Nevin

Emmet Brennan

Kiril Afanasev

Dean Gardiner

European Olympic Qualifiers

Copperbox Arena London 

Last 16

(Postponed)

57kg Michaela Walsh (Ireland) v Mona Mestian (France)

60kg Kellie Harrington (Ireland) v Aneta Rygielska (Poland)

63kg George Bates (Ireland) v Javid Chalabiyev (Azerbaijan)

69kg Aidan Walsh (Ireland) v Wahid Hambli (France)

75kg Aoife O’Rourke (Ireland) v Viktoriya Kebikava (Belarus)

75kg Michael Nevin (Ireland) v Arman Darchinyan (Armenia)

81kg Emmet Brennan (Ireland) v Uke Smajli (Switzerland)

91kg Kiril Afanasev (Ireland) v Emanual Reyes (Spain)

91kg+ Dean Gardiner (Ireland) v Petar Belberov (Bulgaria)

Q/Final

(Postponed)

52kg Brendan Irvine (Ireland) v Gabriel Escobar (Spain)

Results

March 16

Last 32

69kg Aidan Walsh (Ireland) beat Pavel Kamanin (Estonia) 5-0

75kg Michael Nevin (Ireland) beat Max Van Der Pas (Netherlands) 4-1

Last 16

52kg Brendan Irvine (Ireland) beat Istavan Szaka (Hungary) 5-0

51kg Carly McNaul (Ireland) lost Charley Davison (Team Great Britain) 0-5

57kg Kurt Walker (Ireland) lost to Hamsat Shadolov (Germany) 0-5

March 15

Last 32

63kg George Bates (Ireland) beat Leon Dominguez (Spain) RSCI1

81kg Emmet Brennan (Ireland) beat Radenko Tomic (Bosnia & Herzegovina) RSC2

91kg Kiril Afanasev (Ireland) beat Begadze Nikoloz (Georgia) 4-1

Last 16

69kg Christina Desmond (Ireland) lost to Angela Carina (Italy) 0-5

Irish squad

(Olympic qualification standards in brackets)

Male

52kg Brendan Irvine (St Paul’s, Antrim) Cpt (Top 8) (Qualified)

57kg Kurt Walker (Canal, Antrim) (Top 8)

63kg George Bates (St Mary’s, Dublin) (Top 8)

69kg Aidan Walsh (Monkstown, Antrim) (Top 6)

75kg Michael Nevin (Portlaoise, Laois) (Top 6)

81kg Emmet Brennan (Dublin Docklands) (Top 6)

91kg Kiril Afanasev (Smithfield, Dublin) (Top 4)

91+kg Dean Gardiner (Clonmel, Tipperary) (Top 4)

Female

51kg Carly McNaul (Ormeau Road, Belfast) (Top 6)

57kg Michaela Walsh (Monkstown, Antrim) (Top 6)

60kg Kellie Harrington (St Mary’s, Dublin) (Top 6)

69kg Christina Desmond (Fr Horgan’s, Cork, Garda BC) (Top 5)

75kg Aoife O’Rourke (Castlerea, Roscommon) (Top 4)

Staff

High-Performance Director: Bernard Dunne

Coaches: Zaur Antia, John Conlan, Dmitry Dimitruk

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