Michael O’Reilly had to settle for bronze at the AIBA World Elite Championships in Doha, Qatar tonight after losing out to Bektemir Melikuieve of Uzbekistan on a split decision in a high-quality middleweight semi-final.
But the European Games champion is not done yet in Doha. He’ll now meet Egypt’s Abdin Kosam in a box-off for a place at the Olympic Games (date to be confirmed). The top three middleweights in Doha qualify for Rio.
Melikuieve’s aggression and shot selection was enough to earn him the nod on two cards from the first round of today’s clash with the Portlaoise BC man, who, boxing off the back foot, connected with some neat uppercuts.
However, O’Reilly should have taken the second frame across the board, as his was the cleaner work. The two stand out moments of the frame were body to head combinations from the European games champion.
That erratic scoring left O’Reilly with an uphill struggle going into the third, a frame which saw both boxers have their moments, but it was the heavy-handed Uzbek that got the decision.
The middleweight division in Doha in relation to the top three and Olympic qualification is complicated as Cuba’s Arlen Lopez has reached the final. Lopez has already qualified for Rio 2016 through the World Series of Boxing.
However, the bottom line for O’Reilly is that if he beats Kosam in the box-off he will return from Doha with a bronze medal and a ticket for the Olympic Games.