Puncher’s chance: Adrian Roach clings on to hope for Olympic nod
Adrian Roach has expressed his disappointment at being denied the opportunity to fight for a spot at the Olympic Games in Tokyo.
Roach and fellow Controversy Gym fighter Lovintz Tota were scheduled to compete in the America’s Olympic qualifier at the Technopolis in Buenos Aires, Argentina, from May 10 to 16.
However, the event was cancelled over a host of concerns related to Covid-19, leaving the pair to anxiously wait for the Olympic Boxing Task Force to release rankings that will ultimately determine their fate.
“Initially, it was upsetting when I found out I won’t be able to fight to qualify for my spot in the Olympics,” Roach told The Royal Gazette.
“At the moment we are just waiting on the rankings to be dropped to see who was selected because there’s still a chance we can be selected and go straight to the Olympics.
“I would prefer to fight for my spot, but if it goes my way then I’m not complaining. If it doesn’t go my way and we don’t get selected, I can’t complain because I am young and have a lot more opportunities.”
Roach added: “I was right back in the gym as soon as I heard the news; it didn’t stop me from training. I am a fighter in both boxing in the ring and in life. When life throws you a card, you can’t just shut down, so I’m back in the gym staying sharp, staying fit and just hope it goes it our way.”
Tota declined to comment.
Middleweight Tota, 35, and 18-year-old welterweight Roach were vying for spots in Tokyo this summer with the top three competitors in each weight class earning qualification.
However, owing to a spike in Covid-19 cases and the detection of new variants, tighter restrictions have been brought in across South America, including Argentina.
As a result, it has been deemed that hosting the competition in the nation’s capital city would prove too much of a logistical challenge, according to the International Olympic Committee and Boxing Task Force.
Qualification for the Games will now be decided via the BTF rankings as a result of the cancellation.
The BTF has announced that all 49 quota places would remain exclusive to athletes who had been registered for the Buenos Aires event. Those places will be allocated via BTF rankings in accordance with section D3 of the Tokyo 2020 Qualification System for boxing, dated for March 2021, the BTF confirmed.
The reallocation of an additional 13 quota places originally due to be obtained at the global qualifier, which was cancelled in February, will be conducted after the allocation of the 49 quota spots.
The updated version of the qualification system for the Games will be published once approved by the IOC Executive Board, expected by May 7.
Commenting on the matter, Nathan Dill, the Bermuda Boxing Federation president, said: “I was informed by my colleagues in the Caribbean that the rankings are a really finicky thing and we would have to wait until May 7 as far how those are allocated, so I really can’t say one way one or the other. We were advised just to wait until the rankings to make any final plan.”
He added: “I don’t want to be as optimistic as saying, ‛yes, we might have a chance’. But I’m just saying that May 7 is the final point which we will know one way or the other.”
Bermuda was granted another opportunity to qualify after the IOC banned the International Boxing Association from participating in the next Olympics after years of financial chaos and allegations of corrupt judging.
While boxing remains on the programme, the IOC will organise the competition itself.
Meanwhile, Roach is relishing fighting at varsity level for Crandall University in New Brunswick, Canada.
“Fighting at varsity level has been a new experience,” he said. “Everybody out there has had a lot more fights than me.”
The Olympic hopeful’s record stands at 4-3 from his seven bouts to date locking horns with formidable opponents.
“I took challenging fights that most wouldn’t have taken,” Roach added. “I am competing with guys that are on their national teams and won medals at the Canada Games and top-quality sparring partners and team-mates. “
He added: “I feel that I have settled well at the varsity level.
“It was a big adjustment; like the weather out there is different. You have to learn how to train in that type of air because it is a lot thinner, so it’s a little bit harder to breathe.
“Also the level of work that they are giving me is definitely a lot more than what I was being offered on island just because of limited resources.
“Overall, I’m thankful for the opportunity to go overseas and compete while school is getting taken care of.”