Joe Blogs #3 – Olympic Postponement Could Cause Chaos

The slow-motion car crash that is 2020 rolls on.

Sadly, unlike the many mindless videos of a hydraulic press destroying everyday objects (you’re welcome), this disaster is doing nothing to soothe my general malaise.

Katie Taylor’s big fight with Amanda Serrano looks certain to be postponed but the big confirmed boxing news over the past few days comes from the Far East.

Nolympics

The postponement of the Olympics went from far-fetched tinfoil hat talk to a risk, a demand, an inevitability, and finally a reality this week.

The Olympics always have an Irish boxing feel for me seeing as they are the athletes I’m focused on – but the fact that the Games will still be called Tokyo 2020 despite being held in 2021 gave me a giggle. Echoes of the 2020 and 2016 Irish Seniors – held in 2019 and 2015 respectively – and the 2018 Ulsters, held in 2017.

Hopefully we’ve all been doing our home yoga sessions during lockdown because we have a lot of limbo ahead of us.

Obviously, as we can see now with two Turkish boxers and their coach testing positive for COVID-19, it is a disgrace that the qualifier in London even went ahead. But I’m going to try keep my Corona chaos chat to a minimum here and focus on an entirely different, and more familiar, type of chaos.

Amateur boxing.

Firstly, and perhaps most importantly, Brendan Irvine and his glorious qualification right at the moment the European Olympic qualifiers were suspended. It has to stand, surely (and I’d be straight over to Switzerland and the Court of Arbitration for Sport at the slightest hint of any funny business).

The IABA are being uncharacteristically concrete in their recent releases regarding the state of the European qualifiers and how they are merely on hold – sorry Kurt Walker, Carly McNaul, and Christina Desmond. In reality, no one knows, and clarity, a rare commodity in boxing, would be appreciated.

Yes, there’s a global pandemic ongoing – as well as another looming virus called AIBA – but things could be clearer from the Boxing Task Force. I’m not talking about dates for competitions, more so the structure of them.

Conveniently, Irvine’s flyweight division (and Walker’s featherweight class), had all their Olympic slots filled at the time of the qualifier’s suspension without the need for further rounds of box-offs.

These ‘qualified’ fighters, and those from the completed Asian and African qualifiers, should have their spots definitively locked down. Then the American, World, and European qualifiers (either resumed or, preferably, restarted in the 11 undecided weights) can take place whenever possible.

Here, the mess will intensify.

If the qualifiers are to ‘resume’ rather than ‘restart’, there will doubtlessly be many blank spots with boxers who entered a tournament months previously being injured or out of the game as well as the very real possibility that some national federations will have been bankrupted by this stage

Already, Team USA star Keyshawn Davis looks set to go pro (70% likely according to the light welterweight statistician himself). Irish stars like Walker and Kellie Harrington both expressed desires to turn pro after Tokyo and, while I don’t expect them to be tempted in the meantime, the delay is a pain.

Resuming also brings the form issue to the fore. The 13 Irish boxers in the draw in London were chosen by Bernard Dunne and the HPU because they provided ‘the best chance of qualifying for the Olympics’. In three, six, eight months time, will this still be true?

Conversely, if we ‘restart’, will there be war if a new boxer comes into frame and is chosen ahead of a fighter that had earned their place in London in March only to have a literal planetary catastrophe block their path.

My head hurts.

Quick Hits

  • These are tough times and people need to be good to each other. That said, we all need a little beef, and I’ve enjoyed Caoimhin Agyarko being a bollocks to Steven Donnelly recently.  Steven is one of my favourite people in Irish boxing and I hope he gets the chance to make some waves in the pro game while I think Caoimhin is one of our best young prospects and has a huge future. Maybe some day we’ll see the two fight again.

    • Also, while we’re all here with nothing to watch, have a look back at Agyarko and Donnelly’s fight in the 2018 Ulster Senior semis. I thought Donnelly won handily but I’ve seen some debate over what kind of fight it was. Let me know your thoughts.

  • There’s a lot of lockdown #content going about at the moment. A couldn’t really be arsed with all the toilet roll keepie-uppies but I am fully onboard with Joe Parker recreating Hugh Grant’s dancing in Love Actually.

  • It’s silly, I know, but I’ve been absolutely bet into the eWBSS. The Sauerlands contribution to containment has seen live streams every evening of a heavyweight tournament on Fight Night Champion. Many will scoff, but anything that gives boxing fans a bit of entertainment and engagement is a good thing. Also, Joe Frazier’s upset knockout of Lennox Lewis in the quarter-finals was genuinely thrilling.

Bet of the Week

eFrazier at 7/2 to beat eAli in the eWBSS semi-finals tomorrow seems far too wide…. God, I need real boxing to come back.

Final Thoughts

As you might have seen me post last night on Twitter, these are some hard times for Irish-Boxing.com. Thanks to all for the lovely messages and offers of help, lots to be thinking about. There will always be an Irish-Boxing.com, we’re just working out what that will look like at the minute.

Joe O'Neill

Reporting on Irish boxing the past five years. Work has appeared on irish-boxing.com, Boxing News, the42.ie, and local and national media. Provide live ringside updates, occasional interviews, and special features on the future of Irish boxing. email: [email protected]