Aoife O’Rourke secured her place at this summer’s Olympic Games in Tokyo when she overcame Elzbieta Wojcik from Poland in this evening’s crucial qualification bout at the Grand Dome in Paris.
Her rematch with her opponent from the 2019 European Championship final looked to be going the way of the Polish fighter early on, with O’Rourke’s high levels of energy and aggression leading to the Castlerea boxer walking into some precisely-placed jabs from Wojcik. All five judges scored the opening round 10-9 in favour of Wojcik, but the momentum of the fight changed midway through the second round when Wojcik was given a warning by the referee for clinching, as she tried to slow down the tempo of the contest in the face of relentless offensive work from O’Rourke.
Spotting weakness and fatigue in her opponent, O’Rourke stepped up the tempo and concentrated on scoring through a flurry of body punches, delivered while driving forward and forcing Wojcik onto the ropes. There were notes of warning when some jabs and crossing shots from Wojcik penetrated O’Rourke’s defences, particularly a crisp combination of the closing seconds of the second round that threatened to cause doubt in the minds of the judges. Instead, the round was unanimously scored in O’Rourke’s favour and with momentum on her side, she produced her best work in the final three minutes, visibly wearing down Wojcik with relentless bodywork, and taking advantage of that tiredness to hit the target with two excellent right hooks. Once Wojcik was given a standing count in round three, all she had to do was stay standing to secure the win.
In the end it was scored 30-27 to O’Rourke on the card of four of the judges and 30-26 on the other, meaning that she has officially secured one of the four qualification slots that were on offer.
Tomorrow she will take on Welsh boxer and current world champion Lauren Price, who was hugely impressive in her unanimous win over Anastasia Chernokolenko of Ukraine in the previous bout.