Walsh eyes Tokyo 2020 as Olympic final proves his quality

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The Olympics were a tough watch for Dean Walsh. Not only did the Wexford man see his friends and team-mates return medal-less for a variety of circumstances, but he also sat at home knowing that he had the ability to contend at the Games.

The light welterweight failed in his three attempts to qualify for Rio, these being the World Championships, the European Olympic Qualifier, and the World Olympic Qualifier. April’s European Olympic Qualifier in Turkey however was particularly difficult to take. Here in Samsun, Walsh put on the performance of his life in the Last 16 against Cuban-Azeri Lorenzo Sotomayor, only to be dubiously adjudged to have lost on a split decision, even though he felt he won every round.

A broken hand at the World qualifier in June ended Walsh’s Rio dream, but events in Brazil have proved to him that he belongs in the upper echelons of the division. His old pal Sotomayor blazed a trail to the 64kg final, with this run including a win over Cuba’s Yasniel Toledo. There was controversy in the final, with the 31 year old losing a debated split decision to Uzbekistan’s Fazliddin Gaibnazarov.

European bronze medalist Walsh gave Irish-Boxing.com his thoughts on the situation, admitting that “I’m very disappointed in being robbed.”

“And then he nearly wins a gold in the Olympic final… I’m close.”

The St Ibars/St Josephs BC man briefly flirted with the idea of turning professional following his Olympic disappointment, but the 22 year old has since decided to go back to the drawing board and look to build towards the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

Walsh, who was previously involved in a tense rivalry with Ray Moylette, believes “the hardest part is getting out of Ireland.” With four years to go this will certainly be the case as the likes of Sean McComb, Wayne Kelly, James Cleary, Aidan Walsh, Conor Ivors, Jason Harty, Gabriel Dossen and many many more will all have their eyes on the 64kg slot. However, three-time National senior champion Walsh will be the man to beat.

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: joneill6@tcd.ie