‘The two points off were a killer’: Ireland left frustrated as Aidan Walsh bows out of Olympic qualifier

Belfast's Aidan Walsh lost out to Brazil's Wanderson de Oliveira at the World Olympic qualifier in Busto Arsizio on Thursday. Picture by Ben McShane/Sportsfile
Belfast's Aidan Walsh lost out to Brazil's Wanderson de Oliveira at the World Olympic qualifier in Busto Arsizio on Thursday. Picture by Ben McShane/Sportsfile (SPORTSFILE)

DABBING at a bloodied nose on his way around the outside of the ring, Aidan Walsh is still trying to make sense of what just happened after exiting the World Olympic qualifier earlier than intended.

His had been one of the remarkable stories heading to Busto Arsizio – the 2020 Olympic bronze medallist back after a year away from the ring, ready to rumble once more, a renewed love for the game behind the push for Paris this summer.

The headlines were already written, expectations already in place. A first round stoppage of the UAE’s inexperienced Husain Alkandari on his return only fanned the flames of hope, but this story would not have a happy ending.

Not yet anyway. After coming up short against Brazil’s Wanderson de Oliveira, Walsh will be among those in the mix for another crack at May’s second World qualifier in Thailand.

That, though, is a conversation for another day. Having kept a low profile since forcing his way into the frame for selection during recent months, he chooses to keep his counsel still, at least until the clouds clear in the immediate aftermath of Thursday’s exit.

The Irish camp were not enamoured with the performance of the Hong Kong referee, who docked Walsh two points in the second round for hitting and holding/pushing, leaving the Commonwealth Games gold medallust with it all to do in the last after de Oliveira edged the opener.

Standing toe-to-toe has never been the 26-year-old’s style, but he was left with no other choice. And, as he went after the body, the Brazilian unleashed four thunderous uppercuts to leave blood streaming from Walsh’s nose.

From there, mission improbable became mission impossible.

“That’s boxing,” said Irish coach Damian Kennedy.

“We thought Aidan’s first round was close, maybe could’ve won it. The second round, for me, was definitely a 5-0. I thought he was exceptional, a real positive - that was the old Aidan Walsh in the second round.

“Unfortunately the two points was a bit of a killer, and then the third round we maybe got caught a little bit at close distance, even though there were still flashes of success.

“Overall a good performance - was it his best performance? I don’t think so. But it’s definitely something to build on.”

As for the referee, Kennedy felt both boxers could have been punished in a cagey cat and mouse affair during the opening six minutes, rather than just Walsh bearing the brunt.

“I thought in the second round, there were definitely opportunities where the referee could’ve been offering cautions to the Brazilian boxer for blows to the back of the head. He didn’t seem to take that into consideration,” added the Toome man.

“Yeah, Aidan held once, there’s no doubt about that, but there were no warnings prior to that hold either. I thought he was very harsh on Aidan in the second round.

“But look, Aidan’s good, he’s alright. Aidan’s a very pleasant and nice lad, and that’s exactly the way he was when he came off the field of play as well - very appreciative of everything that’s done for him, and an absolute pleasure to be around.

“We’ll evaluate this and move on from here.”


World Olympic qualifier, Busto Arsizio


Round of 32

66kg: G Walsh v S von Berge (Germany) – morning session

80kg: K Cassidy v W Trujillo (Guatemala) – morning session

51kg: D Moorehouse v T Cedeno (Venezuela) – afternoon session

57kg: J Gallagher v H Mohammed (India) – evening session


Round of 16: M McDonagh v D Latypov (Bahrain)