Brilliant Steven Donnelly’s Olympic Dream ends

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Steven Donnelly’s fairytale came to an end against World champion Mohammed Rabii this afternoon in Rio.

The Ballymena welterweight put in a great performance against the Moroccan but was edged out on a split decision by the World number one.

Still sporting a shiner from his Last 16 clash with Mongolia’s Tüvshinbat Byamba, Donnelly shipped a big shot with in seconds, but seemed to control the opening round. However, the judges all sided with the more eye-catching single shots from Rabii.

Rabii, unimpressive in his opening bout, kicked into gear in the second, and seemed to land the greater number of shots to take a close round on two cards.

Needing a miracle in the final round, the All Saints fighter was given a safety-based standing count after a clash of the heads, before being caught and tripped near the final bell for a knockdown – which was seemingly disregarded by the three judges. A glimmer of hope presented itself following a point deduction for Rabii for the aforementioned headbutt and Donnelly kept going and to the final bell, taking the round on one card – but it wouldn’t be enough.

The final scorecards read 27-29 x2, 29-27, handing Rabii the win and a guaranteed bronze medal.

It’s been a long and winding road for Donnelly and while he will be disappointed not to medal, he bows out with his head held high.

Joe O'Neill

Reporting on Irish boxing the past five years. Work has appeared on, Boxing News,, and local and national media. Provide live ringside updates, occasional interviews, and special features on the future of Irish boxing. email: