Brendan Irvine came from behind to see off the challenge of Bulgaria’s Daniel Asenov to secure an Olympic ticket in Samsun, Turkey today.
Both men – who were born on the same day a year apart, Irvine on May 17th, 1996 and Asenov on May 17th, 1997 – met in a third place box-off, with the winner guaranteed a ticket to Rio 2016.
Irvine, the No. 1 seed in the flyweight class in Samsun, had to pull out all the stops to subdue his fiery opponent, who, to his credit, set a pace and never really relented.
Two of the judges split for Asenov at the end of a first frame which saw the Bulgarian land three big overhand rights. Irvine found his range at mid-way and hit the target with the punch of the bout, a sweet uppercut bang on the button.
Asenov received a public warning for dropping – he had been cautioned in the first round – his head in the second, which was a much more composed round from Irvine, although the Bulgarian fly was still pouring forward at any opportunity.
Asenov detonated some solid shots in opening exchanges of the third, but Irvine continued to pick off the cleaner punches, with Asenov’s overhand right hook now telegraphed well in advance and missing with regularlity.
In the end, it came down to who wanted it more from a fierce battle between two totally committed fighters going down a frenetic final stretch.
That man proved to be the current Irish Elite champion from the St Paul’s BC in Antrim on a unanimous decision.
“It was a fantastic performance from Brendan against a very tough opponent. We’ll now be looking to get David Oliver over the line tomorrow,” said Irish team manager Joe Hennigan.
Irvine now joins Paddy Barnes, Michael Conlan, Steven Donnelly and Joe Ward on the plane to Rio.
David Oliver Joyce can make it six Irish boxers qualified versus Turkish lightweight Volkan Gokcek shortly after 4pm tomorrow.
Olympic champion Katie Taylor is in action at approximately 12.30pm tomorrow in a 3rd and 4th place box-off with Bulgaria’s Svetlana Staneva.
The top three men and the top two women qualify for Rio 2016 in Samsun.
The final Olympic qualifiers after this weekend will be at the World Women’s Championships in Astana Kazakhstan (May 19/27), where Taylor will be aiming to seal a Rio berth and claim her sixth successive title.
Twelve Olympic places are available, four in each of the three Olympics weights – flyweight, lightweight and middleweight – for women in Central Asia.
The final qualifier for regular amateur boxing, now called AIBA Open Boxing (AOB), will be held in Baku, Azerbaijan (June 14/26). The last qualifier will be the World Series of Boxing (WSB) versus AIBA Pro Boxing (APB) tournament in either late June or July in a host city to be confirmed.
Barnes (Light-fly), Irvine (Flyweight), Conlan (Bantamweight), Donnelly (Welterweight) and Ward (Light-heavyweight) have taken five of the 13 Olympics places available to each nation in the men’s and women’s weights.
Starting tomorrow with Joyce and continuing at the World Women’s Championships next month, the Baku tournament and the WSB versus APB clash, if applicable, Ireland will be targeting Olympic berths in the men’s Lightweight, Light-welter, Middleweight, Heavyweight and Super-heavyweight classes and women’s Flyweight, Lightweight and Middleweight categories.
See below attachment for Rio qualification guidelines.
European Olympic Qualifiers Samsun, Turkey
64kg Dean Walsh (Ireland) beat Erik Agataljan (Czech Republic) 3-0
91kg+ Dean Gardiner (Ireland) beat Simen Nysater (Norway) 3-0
51kg Ceire Smith (Ireland) beat Virginia Barankas (Hungary) 3-0
52kg Brendan Irvine (Ireland) beat Hamza Touba (Germany) 3-0
64kg Dean Walsh (Ireland) lost to Lorenzo Sotomayor (Azerbaijan) 1-2
60kg Katie Taylor (Ireland) beat Martina Schmoranzova (Czech Republic) 3-0
75kg Christina Desmond (Ireland) beat Nouchka Fontijan (Netherlands) 2-0
91kg+ Dean Gardiner (Ireland) lost to Mahammadrausl Majidor (Azerbaijan) 0-3
60kg David Oliver Joyce (Ireland) beat Otar Eranosyan (Georgia) 3-0
75kg Michael O’Reilly (Ireland) lost to Ilari Kijala (Finland) 0-3
91kg Darren O’Neill (Ireland) beat Gabriel Richards (Sweden) TKO1
51kg Ceire Smith (Ireland) lost to Tetyna Kob (Ukraine) 1-2
52kg Brendan Irvine (Ireland) beat Ellie Konki (France) 2-1
60kg Katie Taylor (Ireland) beat Yvonne Rasmussen (Denmark) 3-0
60kg David Oliver Joyce (Ireland) beat Vazgen Sufaryants (Belarus) 3-0
75kg Christina Desmond (Ireland) lost to Petra Scatmari (Hungary) 0-3
91kg Darren O’Neill (Ireland) lost to Abdulkadir Abdullayev (Azerbaijan) 1-2
52kg Brendan Irvine (Ireland) lost to Narek Abgaryan (Armenia) 0-3
52kg Muhammad Ali (Great Britain) beat Daniel Asenov (Bulgaria) 3-0
(Abargyan, Ali and Irvine qualify for Rio)
60kg Katie Taylor (Ireland) lost to Yana Alexseevna (Azerbaijan) 0-3
60kg Svetlana Staneva (Bulgaria) lost to Irma Tessa (Italy) 1-2
(Alexseevna and Tessa qualify for Rio. 3rd and 4th place to be decided)
60kg David Oliver Joyce (Ireland) lost to Joe Cordina (Great Britain) 0-3
60kg Sofiane Oumiha (France) beat Volkan Gokcek (Turkey) 3-0
(Cordina and Oumiha qualifiy for Rio. Third Rio place to be decided)
Box-off for Rio 2016 place
52kg Brendan Irvine (Ireland) beat Daniel Asenov (Bulgaria) 3-0
Box off for Rio 2016 place
60kg David Oliver Joyce (Ireland) v Volkan Gokcek (Turkey)
Box off for 3rd and 4th position
60kg Katie Taylor (Ireland) v Svetlana Staneva (Bulgaria)
51kg Ceire Smith (Cavan)
60kg Katie Taylor (Bray)
75kg Christina Desmond (Fr Horgans)
52kg Brendan Irvine (St Pauls)
60kg David Oliver Joyce (AIBA Pro Boxing)
64kg Dean Walsh (St Joesphs/St Ibars)
75kg Michael O’Reilly (Portlaoise)
91kg Darren O’Neill (Paulstown)
91+kg Dean Gardiner (Clonmel)
Team manager: Joe Hennigan
Coaches: Zaur Antia, Eddie Bolger, John Conlan
Physiotherapist: Julianne Ryan
Sports Psychologist: Gerry Hussey
Doctor: Jim Clover
Performance Analyst: Alan Swanton