O’Reilly Qualified, Gardiner One Victory Away from Rio

Updated: June 24, 2016

Ireland’s rich tradition of amateur boxing was further enhanced this week with news of an eighth qualifier for the Rio Olympics confirmed. Middleweight Michael O’Reilly scored an impressive 3-0 win over Azeri Kamran Shakhsuvardy at the World championships in Baku.


The victory was nothing short of emphatic as O’Reilly’s performance left little room for doubt. The Portlaoise native was on the wrong end of a 3-0 defeat to Egyptian Hosam Abdin last year which was shrouded in controversy. At that fight judges score cards were not available to journalists between rounds as is usually the case. Some pointed to the fact Abdin was one of the very few middle-eastern fighters still eligible for Olympic qualification as a catalyst for political scoring. O’Reilly left nothing to chance this time around.


There was further good news as super-heavyweight Dean Gardiner beat Moldovan Alexi Zavatin 29-28 in the world championships in Baku. He will face the stereotypically named Italian fighter Vianello Guido in the final. Gardiner, fromTipperary, goes by the moniker ‘Breakfast’ perhaps the least intimidating nickname ever heard in the annals of boxing. This hasn’t stopped him building a fearsome reputation, before he beat Zavatin he pulled of another impressive win over Ukrainian Viktor Vykhryst.


As always the Irish boxing squad are bringing an impressive team to Rio. Attention will be even more sharply focused on them this time around as it will be the first Olympics without former coach Billy Walsh. Walsh left the Irish set up to coach the US women’s team, a situation the High Performance coach and many others felt could and should have been avoided.

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