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Wednesday 7 December 2016

Dogged Joyce on way to Rio

Redemption for lightweight joining five Irish as Taylor wins

Ireland’s David Joyce (blue) exchanges punches with Turkey’s Volkan Gokcek during their Men’s Lightweight (60kg) box-off bout in the AIBA 2016 European Olympic Qualification tournament in Samsun, Turkey. Pic: Sportsfile
Ireland’s David Joyce (blue) exchanges punches with Turkey’s Volkan Gokcek during their Men’s Lightweight (60kg) box-off bout in the AIBA 2016 European Olympic Qualification tournament in Samsun, Turkey. Pic: Sportsfile

David Oliver Joyce became the sixth Irish boxer to qualify for the Rio Olympics after victory in the bronze medal box-off at the European qualifying tournament in Turkey yesterday.

Joyce, who missed out on qualification for both the 2008 and 2012 games, finished strongly to win a terrific contest against home favourite Volkan Gokcek and claim a split decision victory.

Joyce follows flyweight Brendan Irvine, who booked his place in Rio with a win on Saturday, and the duo join pre-qualified quartet Paddy Barnes, Michael Conlan, Steven Donnelly and Joe Ward.

Four years ago at the World championships in Baku the St Michael's Athy lightweight was within eight seconds of qualifying for the London Games in 2012 only for disaster to strike.

He was harshly penalised for what the referee perceived to be a foul; the point he was docked meant that his Indian opponent won the bout by a point. Had it finished level Joyce would have won it on countback and boxed in the Olympics

He contemplated retiring from boxing but was enticed back into the sport via to new AIBA pro series. He didn't qualify for the Rio Olympics via that route but finally got a break - in Turkey and against a Turkish opponent!

Joyce got the nod from two of the judges after round one. But Gokcek responded well and won round two on all three judges cards. This left the fight delicately balanced. It was level on two judges' cards with the Turk ahead on one card.

However, facing the most important three minutes of his boxing career Joyce - who is a cousin of Joe Ward who has already qualified for the Olympics produced what was required and won the round on all three judges' cards.

Earlier, it was business as usual for Olympic champion Katie Taylor when when comfortably beat Bulgaria's Svetlana Staneva in a box-off for third place.

After her loss to Yana Alekseevna all eyes were on the Bray lightweight. She responded magnificently to the challenge controlling the fight. By the end of the third rounds she had essentially won the contest after getting the nod 10-9 from all three judges in each of the three rounds up to that point.

The scoring was odd to put it mildly in the last round but it didn't matter in the overall context of the fight as Taylor cruised to a unanimous 3-0 win (39-37; 40; 35, 40-36)

The win eases the pressure on Taylor ahead of the World championships in Kazakhstan where she must reach the semi-final in order to secure for qualification for the Rio Olympics where she hopes to defend her 60kg title which she won in London.

But this win means that Taylor could automatically qualify for Rio regardless of how she performances at the World championships next month.

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