Irish skipper Michael Conlan through to World final, but Michael O’Reilly loses on a split decision in AIBA World semi-finals.
Michael O’Reilly had to settle for bronze at the AIBA World Elite Championships in Doha, Qatar tonight after being edged out by 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 on Wednesday. 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 tonight’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 across the board, as his was the cleaner work. The two stand out moments of the frame were body to head combinations from the Irish Elite 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 2016 Olympic Games.
Earlier this evening, Michael Conlan upgraded his bronze medal to at least silver at the expense of Dzimitry Asanau of Belarus.
The Irish captain won the first and third rounds of today’s 56kg duel 10-9 across the board to take a 30-27, 29-28,29-28 decision. Asanau split the judges in his favour in the second round, but Conlan was back on his toes and dominating – he found the target with six unanswered shots in the first 30 seconds of the final frame – to secure victory.
The current European Elite champion staggered Asanau back onto the ropes with a left in the second, but the Belarusian dug deep to take the frame on two cards.
Conlan will now meet Murodjon Akhmadaliev of Uzbekistan in the 56kg final on Wednesday seeking to become the first Irishman to win an AIBA World Elite gold and the first Irish boxer after Kate Taylor to finish on top of an AIBA World Elite podium.
“I’m really looking forward to the final now,” Conlan told RTE, “The lads (coaches) told me I needed to win the third round and I was confident. I kept my cool and held by patience, I didn’t panic.
“I just knew I had to keep to my game plan because he [Asanau] was going to fold – he’s only a young lad.”
Conlan’s win confirms Doha 2015 as Ireland’s most successful World Championships, as the Irish skipper, who is now guaranteed silver, O’Reilly (bronze) and Joe Ward (bronze, at least) will finish in podium positions.
Our highest medal haul prior to Doha was at the 2013 World Championships in Kazakhstan where Jason Quigley and Joe Ward secured silver and bronze.
The top three bantamweights in Doha qualify for the Rio 2016 Olympics, and Conlan now has the distinction of qualifying for the same Olympics twice, as he’s already booked an Olympic berth through the WSB.
AIBA World Elite Championships
(Afternoon and Evening session begin at 12pm and 5pm (Irish time)
October 6th (last 32)
49kg Brendan Irvine (Ireland) beat Nico Hernandez (USA) 3-0
64kg Dean Walsh (Ireland) lost to Luis Dian Arcon (Venezuela) 1-2
75kg Michael O’Reilly (Ireland) beat Valerii Kharlamov (Ukraine) 3-0
October (7th) (Last 32)
60kg Sean McComb (Ireland) beat Lindolfo Garcia Delgado (Mexico) 3-0
69kg Adam Nolan (Ireland) lost to Eimantas Stanionis (Lithuania) 1-2
October 8th (last 16)
49kg Brendan Irvine (Ireland) beat Muhammet Unlu (Turkey) 2-1
56kg Michael Conlan (Ireland) beat Robenilson de Jesus (Brazil) 2-0
75kg Michael O’Reilly (Ireland) beat Daniel Lewis (Australia) 3-0
October 9th (last 16)
60kg Sean McComb (Ireland) lost to Albert Selimov (Azerbaijan) 1-2
81kg Joe Ward (Ireland) beat Oleksandr Kyyzhniak (Ukraine) 3-0
October 10th (Q/Finals)
49kg: Brendan Irvine (Ireland) lost to Joahnys Argilagos (Cuba) 0-3
56kg: Michael Conlan (Ireland) beat Tayfur Aliyev (Azerbaijan) 3-0
75kg Michael O’Reilly (Ireland) beat Zhanubek Alimhanuly (Kazakhstan) 2-1
81kg Joe Ward (Ireland) beat Mikhail Baudhaliavets (Belarus) 3-0
October 11th (S/Finals)
56kg Michael Conlan (Ireland) beat Dmitry Asanu (Belarus) 3-0
75kg Michael O’Reilly (Ireland) lost to Bektemir Melkuziev (Uzbekistan) 1-2
October 12th (S/Finals)
81kg Joe Ward (Ireland) v Ishod Rasulov (Uzbekistan)
October 14th (Final) (according to the official draw sheet)
56kg Michael Conlan (Ireland) v Murodjon Akhmadaliev (Uzbekistan)