Joyce must win tonight to keep Rio hopes alive

David Oliver Joyce
David Oliver Joyce

David Oliver Joyce bids to keep alive his ambitions of boxing at the Rio Olympics when he takes on local favourite Hurshid Tojibaev in the Uzbek capital Tashkent tonight.

The Irish lightweight, who was desperately unlucky not to qualify for the London Olympics in 2012, will make history regardless of the result.

He will be the first Irish amateur boxer to compete in an eight-round contest – provided the fight goes the distance. Joyce is one of two Irish boxers competing in the newly launched AIBA Professional Series (APS).

His cousin Joe Ward will be in action next weekend as he bids to make up for the disappointment of missing out on the London Olympics.

Essentially Joyce, who won two of his four scheduled fights in the series so far, needs to win tonight and then win one more fight to order to secure his place in Rio.

But with the backing of a vocal local following Tojibaev will start as favourite.

Meanwhile, the decision of IBF super-bantamweight champion Carl Frampton to ink a deal with American promoter Al Haymon increases the possibility of his next fight being in the US.

Frampton will continue to be managed by Barry McGuigan but Haymon, who currently works with some of the world’s leading boxers including Floyd Mayweather, will act as his ‘advisor.’

Even though he is something of a reclusive figure Haymon, who doesn’t give interviews and is rarely photographed, is emerging as one of the key brokers in world boxing.

Significantly he has been responsible for getting professional boxing back on mainstream television in the US signing a deal with the NBC network. This agreement paved the way for Andy Lee’s recent fight to be shown free to air on coast to coast television in the US.

On this side of the world Barry McGuigan has attempted to do likewise with Frampton. His last fight was shown on ITV.

But given the time difference between the two countries the odds are that Frampton will have to fight in the US in order to benefit from Haymon’s deal with NBC which broadcasts its boxing at prime viewing times in the United States.

Meanwhile former Olympic silver medallist Wayne McCullough is recovering having collapsed at his home earlier this week.

McCullough, who had a long career in the professional ranks, now lives in the US. He was hospitalised but is now on the mend at home having received the medical all-clear according to his Facebook page.