Tommy McCarthy has been approached about Olympics

Tommy McCarthy looked very impressive in his recent victory over the experienced Jon Lewis Dickinson
Tommy McCarthy looked very impressive in his recent victory over the experienced Jon Lewis Dickinson

BELFAST’S rising cruiserweight star Tommy McCarthy has been sounded out about the possibility of entering a qualifier that could see him compete for Ireland at this summer’s Olympic Games.

It is understood McCarthy has been contacted by the Irish Athletic Boxing Association (IABA) since the International Boxing Association last week voted in favour of granting professional fighters eligibility for the Olympics.

Current Irish heavyweight champion Darren O’Neill has one last chance to secure a place in Rio when he enters the final Olympic qualifier in Azerbaijan next week. However, if he fails, then the IABA is likely to consider its options as national associations are permitted to enter professional fighters in an Olympic qualifying event in Venezuela next month (July 3-8).

It is not just at heavyweight where Ireland could look to the pro ranks, as next week’s tournament in Baku represents the last-chance saloon for those hoping to secure spots at light-welter, middleweight and super-heavy.

Coalisland middleweight Conrad Cummings last week admitted it was “tempting” should neither Michael O’Reilly or Conor Wallace qualify in Baku, while Jason Quigley’s name has also been mentioned as a 75kg option.

As a former amateur stand-out, McCarthy - who won a Commonwealth Games bronze medal in 2010 and has competed at World and European Championships - would be an obvious contender for the 91kg slot.

The west Belfast puncher admits a possible route to the Olympics is something he would consider, although there would be plenty for McCarthy to mull over. If he was nominated to attend the qualifying event in Venezuela, he would have to give up his professional boxing license with the British Boxing Board of Control.

It would also mean surrendering his current high-flying status on the British cruiserweight scene where - after his recent breakthrough victory over Jon Lewis Dickinson - he stands on the cusp of a potential British title shot.

“I am giving it consideration, I don’t have to give a definite answer straight away and Darren still might qualify anyway,” said McCarthy.

“I’m more leaning towards giving it a miss because I feel my professional career is just starting to take off, especially after last week. My profile went through the roof and I’m in a great position. If I went to the Olympic qualifiers, no doubt I’d qualify, but going to the Games would be different.

“I haven’t boxed as an amateur for over two years and the rest of the fighters have gone to the top tournaments every couple of months. I’m a professional boxer now, I’m a distance fighter, I’m boxing longer rounds in training, so it might be too soon for me to adjust back to being an amateur. All the top amateurs, in my opinion, would beat the top pros over three rounds.”

McCarthy admits he would love to join the 'Olympic club' along with friends and former team-mates Paddy Barnes and Michael Conlan -  if only to put an end to the years of smart remarks at his expense.

He added: “It’s an elite club - you’re an Olympian for life.

“Paddy and Michael have been sleggin me since London, saying things like ‘I’m feeling very Olympic today’, all that, so they wouldn’t be able to sleg me any more if I did go to an Olympics!

"Ultimately though, my main goal is to be a world champion as a professional."