BY IABA Press Officer Bernard O’Neill
Irish team manager Bernie Harold has described the cut Michael Conlan suffered at the Socikas Invitaional in Kaunas, Lithuania yesterday as a minor set back on the journey to Olympic glory.
Conlan, the current World Elite bantam champion, picked up a nasty-looking gash on his right eyebrow after an accidental clash of heads with Moldova’s 2008 Olympic bronze medallist Veaceslav Goran in yesterday’s 56g semi-final.
The Irish Rio 2016 Olympian was taken to hospital in Kaunas last night and received a number of stitches to the wound.
The injury is a worry to Irish boxing with just 77 days to go to the start of the Olympic Games in August.
Harold, who became the first woman to be elected President of a Provincial Boxing Council in the 105-year history of the Irish Athletic Boxing Association last year, said that Conlan, the only Irish boxer to be ranked No. 1 in the world besides Katie Taylor, is totally focussed on Rio.
The Leinster President said: “Michael remains focused on the goal, Olympic Gold! In my experience of the man that is what he will achieve. He is fully capable and focused on getting there. This is a minor setback on his journey. Onwards and upwards for this amazing athlete that is Michael Conlan.”
Meanwhile, there appears to be confusion as to actually won yesterday’s semi-final. Conlan took the first round and was picking up the pace and dominating when the bout was stopped because of the cut.
It is understood that local boxing officials may have awarded the decision to Goran, an ex European Elite champion.
However, according to the rules, if a fight is stopped after the end of the first round because of an accidental foul the winner is the boxer who is ahead on points, which in this case was clearly Conlan.
Paddy Barnes won his semi-final yesterday in Kaunas on a unanimous decision versus Spain’s Gabriel Escobar and meet’s Escobar’s compatriot, Martin Salvador, in today’s final.
Barnes has moved up from light-fly, the weight he has qualified for Rio in, to fly for the tournament. The Belfast duo are the only Irish boxers at the tournament.
John Conlan, father to Michael Conlan, and Jimmy Payne are working Ireland’s corner in Kaunas.