Ryan Byrne/INPHO Michael O'Reilly (file pic).
Feeling very Olympic
O'Reilly one win away from Olympic qualification as Gardiner also remains on track for Rio
Both boxers were victorious today in Azerbaijan.

IT’S BEEN A good day for the two Irish boxers involved in the Olympic qualifiers in Baku, as both Michael O’Reilly and Dean Gardiner moved a step closer to securing a place at this summer’s games in Rio de Janeiro.

O’Reilly progressed to the quarter-finals after defeating Mongolia’s Shinebayor Narmandakh, winning all three rounds for a unanimous decision on scores of 30-27 across the board.

With five places up for grabs at middleweight, the Portlaoise boxer is now just one win away from guaranteeing his involvement in Rio — although it’s possible that he may have already done enough.

All four semi-finalists will seal Olympic berths. There has been no clarification from the AIBA as of yet regarding the allocation of the fifth spot, but it seems likely to be handed to the quarter-finalist who is beaten by the eventual winner.

Next up for O’Reilly is a potentially tricky bout against home favourite Kamran Shakhsuvarly on Thursday. A win will book O’Reilly’s ticket to Rio without any confusion.

Dean Gardiner Ryan Byrne / INPHO Dean Gardiner (file pic). Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

For Dean Gardiner, the picture is much clearer. After his big win over Viktor Vykhryst of Ukraine in today’s quarter-final, he needs two more victories to make it to Rio.

With only one place up for grabs at super-heavyweight, there’s no margin for error so the Clonmel native requires a gold medal to qualify.

Despite dropping the last round against Vykhryst, Gardiner had done enough by winning the opening two frames, giving him a unanimous-decision (29-28 x 3) triumph.

Moldova’s Alexei Zavatin will be his opponent in the semi-finals on Friday.

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