Michael Conlan is out of the Rio Olympics.
The Belfast bantam outclassed Vladimir Nikitin but the judges awarded the Russian fighter a unanimous verdict in a highly controversial decision.
Conlan, who would have been guaranteed at least bronze if he had advanced,won all three rounds on the unofficial scoring and was by far the superior boxer.
The finals scores,which left Irish fans and neutrals shaking their heads in disbelief,read 29-28,29-28,29-28 to Nikitin.
Today’s “defeat” ends Ireland’s competitive interest in the boxing event at the Rio Olympics.
Conlan dominated the first in every department and made his durable opponent look clumsy for most of the opening three minutes.But the judges,unbelievably, all scored the frame to Nikitin.
That forced the Irish corner to change tactics.Conlan had to go to war. He did that, got into the trenches and outpunched and bullied Nikitin to take the frame across the board.
That left the scores tied at 19-19 each and the result resting on the outcome of the third. Conlan started brightly and at pace, and finding the target and outworking his opponent, again detonated the higher volume of shots,but the judges opted for Nikitin.
The real controversial point in today’s bout was the scoring in the first.Conlan could have, given his slick skills,picked up at least one 10-8 score, but incredulously the judges all went 10-9 to Nikitin,scores which changed the entire dynamic of the three-rounder.
In fairness to Nikitin,who was awarded another controversial result against Thailand in the last 16,he did find the target with some solid shots of his own in all three rounds.
And what boxer is going to complain if judges hand them an Olympic medal from a bout their opponent has dominated?
“I was here to win Olympic gold,my dream’s been shattered now,”said Conlan after the 56kg quarter-final.
Clearly emotional, he added,in no uncertain terms,that he felt he’d won.His views were echoed by his coach and dad John Conlan,Irish head coach Zaur Antia and coach Eddie Bolger and thousands of people on social media.
Teams cannot appeal the decisions of judges.
Conlan got an ovation from Irish and neutral fans following his performance this afternoon.
Amid a tsunami of online support for Conlan and outrage at the verdict, one man summed it up best with one word.
“Speechless”,tweeted Andy Lee, Ireland’s only boxer at the 2004 Olympics.
Four splits went against Irish boxers at the Rio 2016.The most controversial verdict against Ireland, however, was today’s unanimous decision.
Conlan is the current AIBA World Elite champion and the current AIBA World No. 1 ranked bantamweight.
Shakur Stevenson of the USA won the corresponding quarter-final today.
Irish Results Rio Olympics
August 7th (last 32)
60kg David Oliver Joyce (Ireland) beat Andrique Allisop (Seychelles) 3-0
69kg Steven Donnelly (Ireland) beat Zahir Kedache (Algeria) 3-0
August 8th (last 16)
49kg Paddy Barnes (Ireland) lost to Samuel Carmona (Spain) 1-2
August 9th (last 16)
60kg David Oliver Joyce (Ireland) lost to Albert Selimov (Azerbaijan) 0-3
August 10th (last 16)
81kg Joe Ward (Ireland) lost to Carlos Andreas Mina (Ecuador) 1-2
August 11th (last 16)
69kg Steven Donnelly (Ireland) beat Tuvshinbat Byamba (Mongolia) 2-1
August 12th (last 16)
75kg Michael O’Reilly (Ireland) lost to Uziel Rodriquez (Mexico) W/O
August 13th (last 32)
52kg Brendan Irvine (Ireland) lost to Shakhobidin Zoirov (Uzbekistan) 0-3
69kg Steven Donnelly (Ireland) lost to Mohammed Rabii (Morocco) 1-2
August 14th (last 16)
56kg Michael Conlan (Ireland) beat Aram Avagyan (Armenia) 3-0
August 15th (Q/Final)
60kg Katie Taylor (Ireland) lost to Mira Potkonen (Finland) 1-2
August 16th (Q/Final)
56kg Michael Conlan (Ireland) “lost to” Vladimir Nikitin (Russia) 0-3
60kg (Lightweight) – Katie Taylor (Bray)
49kg (Light-flyweight) – Paddy Barnes (Holy Family)
52kg (Flyweight) – Brendan Irvine (St Paul’s)
56kg (Bantamweight) – Michael Conlan (Clonard)
60kg (Lightweight) – David Oliver Joyce (St Michael’s Athy & AIBA Pro Boxing)
69kg (Welterweight) – Steven Donnelly (All Saints)
75kg (Middleweight) – Michael O’Reilly (Portlaoise)
81kg (Light-heavyweight) – Joe Ward (Moate & AIBA Pro Boxing)
Team Manager: Joe Hennigan
Coaches: Zaur Antia, Eddie Bolger, John Conlan
Physio: Julianne Ryan
Sport Psychologist: Gerry Hussey
Doctor: Jim Clover