IT’S not quite like the journey to Croke Park, but their are back doors or even back roads on the road to the Rio.
However, Steven Donnelly fears after failing to qualify for the 2016 Olympics via the World Series of Boxing those back doors will be locked shut.
The Ballymena puncher has performed admirably in the WSB winning all his five fights in the contest that is amateur in name, but pro in style. Five wins, however were not enough for the 2014 Senior Champion to claim a top two place and going into the final day of the season he can’t overtake the now Rio bound Razhab Butaev and Mohammed Rabii.
A place on the plane to Rio can still be earned at the World Championships in October, but Donnelly believes reigning Senior Champion-Donnelly didn’t defend his title this year due to injury- Adam Nolan will go to the Europeans this summer and if he performs will represent Ireland at the Worlds.
“I’ll not lie after not making RIO via the WSB I am gutted. I was hoping to qualify the WSB way this season, but who knows what will happen,” Donnelly told Irish-boxing.com.
“Nolan is Senior Champion, yes but I believe I am the top welter in the country. That is no disrespect to Adam he is a great lad and a great fighter, but I believe I am better.
“There are the Europeans after the European games, but I haven’t even thought about any of it. I felt bringing Nolan into WSB when I was on the cusp of qualifying was disrespectful. You wouldn’t see that happen to any other Irish lads in my opinion.”
To make matters worse Donnelly stressed he done all that was asked of him in the WSB. He won all of his bouts for the Polish franchise and performed admirably throughout.
“What makes it more disappointing is I did everything asked of me. I went to all those countries every other week with Eddie Bolger, handled the pressure it brings and still delivered the goods. It is hard because I deserve to be in Rio. If you look at it I have beaten four Olympians in my career to date. I am well capable it is just qualifying is the hard part.”
A place at the Olympic wasn’t secured via the WSB, but a lot of confidence was and the Ballymena man took some positives from his time in the tournament.
“Competing in the WSB have given me bucket loads of confidence. I now know that before going into big fights I have nothing to fear and that if I perform I win. Before I would have been happy just to compete with some the guys, but I am third in a league table of the Worlds top welters. It is a great achievement and no one can take that away from me,” ,he added before discussing pro options.
“Competing over five rounds was great and it has given me pro options. I would be a great pro, but haven’t had any big offers as of yet. I should have one though, If anyone deserves the break in this game it’s me. I work hard and get no money to be honest. I am not funded and the WSB pay isn’t all that great.”