Barnes and Conlan looking to qualify for Rio this weekend
Paddy Barnes and Michael Conlan and Irish coaches Billy Walsh and John Conlan and Italia Thunder team-mates arrived in Venezuela yesterday after their long flight from Madrid.
The five-man Italia Thunder team weigh-in today ahead of their clash with Venezuela in Maiquetía on Saturday.
Barnes, the first Irish boxer to qualify for Beijing 2008 at the AIBA World Elite Championships in Chicago, will become the first Irish boxer to qualify for the 2016 Olympics in Rio and third successive Olympiad if he wins.
The Holy Family BC light-fly, a bronze medallist at the 2008 and 2012 Games, meets Finol Rivasin his final fight of the season knowing that any type of victory – as long as it is not by walkover or disqualification – will book a ticket for Rio.
The top ranked WSB light-fly will secure a berth at the Olympic Games next year.
Michael Conlan, who meets Jose Diaz-Azocar tomorrow, is in 4th spot in the bantamweight table going into the last outing of the regular WSB season in the Group B (C1) class.
Conlan dropped one place overnight after Cuba’s Andy Cruz-Gomez beat Sean McGolderick – who Conlan beat on a unanimous decision at the 2014 Commonwealth Games – of the British Lionhearts on a unanimous decision in his last fight of the regular season in London last evening to go top of the table.
Unbeaten Adam Nolan is also signed with Italia Thunder. The Azzurri are nicely poised in the Group B table to make the play offs and all three Irish boxers are in line to be in action again this season for the Italian side.
But whether Barnes and Conlan line out for Thunder after the last round of Group B (C1) outings as 2016 Olympians or not is contingent on results this weekend.
Meanwhile, Uzbek Hasanboy Dusmatov (Ukraine Otamans) and Josilito Valazquez (Mexico Guerreros) meet Russia’s Belik Galanov and Junjun He of the China Dragons in their last World Series of Boxing (WSB) matches of the regular WSB term tonight.
Dusmatov is in second place on 28 points in the WSB 49kg ranking tables, two points behind Barnes. Valazquez is in third spot on 25 points. If Dusmatov claims a maximum of five points tonight he will move three points clear of Barnes at the top of the table, but if Barnes, who is aiming for his 7th successive victory of the season for Thunder since January 17, beats Rivas in Venezuela he will regain top spot and secure the only Olympic place available in the 49kg weight class from the 2015 WSB season.