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Bates beats Becerra in London while Christina Desmond bows out of qualifiers

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George Bates got Ireland back to winning ways in London tonight.

The Tallaght fighter progressed past the last 16 of the European Olympic qualifiers with victory at the Copper Box Arena.

Bates effectively got the job done within a round beating Leon Becerra.

The referee stopped the fight with just seconds to go in round one due to a cut over the Spaniards left eye. As a result the clash went to the cards and Bates was awarded the fight on points.

The victory now leaves Bates needing two wins to book a place on the plane to Tokyo.

Bates started well, his jab the more effective of the two and he worked with Becerra anytime the smaller man managed to get inside.

The St Mary’s fighter started to look comfortable and just when it looked like he had the round in the bag the referee stopped the fight meaning he had the fight won and his name was in the hat for the next round.

While Bates moves closer to Tokyo the job is far from done. The Dub has been handed the toughest draw of all the Irish fighters.

Former world champ Javid Chalabiyev is likely to be next. Then it would be another former world champ in French star Sofiane Oumiha for a place on the plane.

Heavyweight Kiril Afanasev is next up and will be hoping to make it three out of four for the Irish fighters on Day 2.

The Smithfield boxer fights Begadze Nikoloz of Georgia in and around 9:00 Irish time.

Meanwhile Christina Desmond bowed out of the qualifiers earlier in the evening.

The Cork welter fell at the first hurdle meaning she won’t qualify for Tokyo via the European qualifier route.

In truth this evening clash was Desmond’s Olympic bout. She was pitted against #3 seed Angela Carini first in the Last 16.

The Italian won a silver at last year’s Euros before dropping down to light welter to win silver in the Worlds and then returning to 69kg for these qualifiers.

Experienced French fighter Emile Sonvico and a spot at the Games would have been next up, but defeat there would have put Desmond into a winnable box off.

Despite a battling performance the Macroom fighter wasn’t able to defeat her fellow southpaw and will look to Paris and the World qualifiers for passage to Tokyo.

Irish squad

(Olympic qualification standard in brackets)


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

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)


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)

High-Performance Director: Bernard Dunne

Coaches: Zaur Antia, John Conlan, Dmitry Dimitruk


Jonny Stapleton contributor for 15 years and editor for the past decade. Have been covering boxing for over 16 years and writing about sports for a living for over 20 years. Former Assistant Sports editor for the Gazette News Paper Group and former Tallaght Voice Sports Editor. Have had work published in publications around the world when working as a freelance journalist. Also co-founder of Junior Sports Media and Leinster Rugby PRO of the Year winner. email: