European Olympic Qualifier – Draw and essential preview

The draw for the European Olympic qualifier took place today in Samsun, Turkey. The Irish team of 9 boxers were dealt a tough draw at the Black Sea resort, however they will be confident of qualifying further boxers for Brazil to join Paddy Barnes, Mick Conlan, Steven Donnelly, and Joe Ward.

Below we have profiled the 9 Irish men and women who will be looking to book their plane tickets to Brazil, as well as looking through the draw and who could stand in the way of their Olympic dream.

Boxing starts this evening with Dean Walsh and Dean Gardiner in action.

Full draws and running orders for each weight can be viewed here.

Brendan Irvine
Flyweight (52kg)
Age: 19
Club: St Paul’s ABC (Antrim)
Stance: Orthodox
Major International Honours: European Games silver (2015)

First Fight: Monday v Hamza Touba (Germany) or Siarhei Loban (Belarus)
Wins from Rio: 3
Threats on his side of draw: Irvine seeded #1 at the weight
Vincenzo Picardi (Italy) – European Games silver (2015), Olympic bronze, World bronze (2010), European bronze (2010, 2011)
[Defeated Irvine recently at Strandja multi-nations]
Hamza Touba (Germany) – European Games bronze (2015)

David Oliver Joyce
Lightweight (60kg)
Age: 29
Club: St Michael’s Athy (Kildare)
Stance: Orthodox
Major International Honours: EU gold (2008, 2009, 2014)

First Fight: Tuesday v Otar Eranosyan (Georgia) or Bernard Torres (Norway)
Wins from Rio: 3
Threats on his side of draw: Joyce seeded #3 at the weight
Joseph Cordina (Great Britain) – European gold (2014), Commonwealth bronze (2014)
[Beaten by Joyce twice in 2012]
Dominic Valentino (Italy) – x5 World  medalist, x2 European medalist, x4 EU medalist
[Beaten by Joyce twice in 2011 and 2014, defeated Joyce in 2013]

Dean Walsh
Light Welterweight (64kg)
Age: 21
Club: St Joseph’s/Ibar’s (Wexford)
Stance: Orthodox
Major International Honours: European Championships bronze (2015)

First Fight: Tonight v Erik Agateljan (Czech Republic)
Wins from Rio: 4
Threats on his side of draw:
Lorenzo Sotomayor (Azerbaijan) – Cuban born and raised. European Games gold (2015)
Viktor Petrov (Ukraine) – European Games bronze (2015)

Michael O’Reilly
Middleweight (75kg)
Age: 23
Club: Portlaoise BC (Laois)
Stance: Orthodox
Major International Honours: European Games gold (2015), World Championships bronze (2015)

First Fight: Tuesday v Tomas Pivorun (Latvia) or Ilari Kulaja (Finland)
Wins from Rio: 3
Threats on his side of draw: O’Reilly seeded #1 at the weight
Christian Mbilli Assomo (France) – EU gold (2014)
[Defeated O’Reilly in 2014 and 2016]
Anthony Fowler (Great Britain) – World bronze (2013), Commonwealth gold (2014)
[Defeated O’Reilly in 2014]

Darren O’Neill
Heavyweight (91kg)
Age: 30
Club: Paulstown BC (Kilkenny)
Stance: Southpaw
Major International Honours: European silver (2010), EU gold & silver (2009 & 2014), Olympian (2012)

First Fight: Tuesday v Gabriel Richards (Sweden)
Wins from Rio: 3
Threats on his side of draw
Abdulkadir Abdullayev (Azerbaijan) – European Games gold (2015)
Seyda Keser (Turkey) – Home fighter

Dean Gardiner
Super Heavyweight (+91kg)
Age: 28
Club: Clonmel BC (Tipperary)
Stance: Orthodox
Major International Honours: None

First Fight: Tonight v Simon Nysater (Norway)
Wins from Rio: 4
Threats on his side of draw:
Magomedrasul Medzhidov (Azerbaijan) – Olympic bronze (2012), World gold (2011, 2013), European gold (2013)
Ali Demirezen (Turkey) – Home fighter

Ceire Smith
Flyweight (51kg)
Age: 23
Club: Cavan BC (Cavan)
Stance: Orthodox
Major International Honours:

First Fight: Monday v Virginia Barankai (Hungary)
Wins from Rio: 3
Threats on her side of draw:
Stanimira Petrova (Bulgaria) – World Championships gold (2014 – at bantamweight)
Tetyana Kob (Ukraine) – European gold (2009)

Katie Taylor
Lightweight (60kg)
Age: 29
Club: Bray BC (Wicklow)
Stance: Orthodox
Major International Honours: Olympic gold (2012), World Championships gold (2006, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2014), European Championships gold (2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014), European Games gold (2015), European Union gold (2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013)

First Fight: Monday v Martina Schmoranzova (Czech Republic) or Tasheena Bugar (Bulgaria)
Wins from Rio: 3
Threats on her side of draw: Taylor seeded #1 at the weight
Yana Alekseevna (Azerbaijan) – Had close fight with Taylor in 2015 European Games
Gulsum Tatar (Turkey) – World medalist x4, European medalist x5, EU medalist x4
[Longtime rival has won 2, lost 3 versus Taylor]

Christina Desmond
Middleweight (75kg)
Age: 19
Club: Fr Horgan’s BC (Cork)
Stance: Southpaw
Major International Honours: World Youth Championships silver (2013)

First Fight: Monday v Nouchka Fontijn (Netherlands)
Wins from Rio: 3
Threats on her side of draw
Nouchka Fontijn (Netherlands) – World bronze (2014), European gold & silver (2014 & 2011)
Anna Nash (Sweden) – World medalist x4, European medalist x5, European Games medalist

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: [email protected]