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Michael Conlan in shot for historic gold title in Doha

By David Kelly

Published 12/10/2015

Power game: Michael Conlan lands a blow on Dzmitry Asanau
Power game: Michael Conlan lands a blow on Dzmitry Asanau

Michael Conlan has made history by becoming the first boxer from Northern Ireland to make the final of the AIBA World championships, in Doha - but he's far from satisfied.

On Wednesday, Belfast bantamweight Conlan will bid to become the first Irish man to win gold at these championships - the previous finalist, Donegal's Jason Quigley, lifted silver.

The 25-year-old European gold medallist has already joined an elite band who have won medals at every major championship and the way he has marched into the 56kg decider, Conlan would appear to have a great chance of striking gold.

The Irish captain won the first and third rounds of yesterday's clash with Belarussian Dzimitry Asanau 10-9 across the board to take a 30-27, 29-28, 29-28 decision.

Asanau split the judges in his favour in the second round but Conlan dominated the last round with his smoot boxing.

Update: Michael Conlan claims AIBA bantamweight world crown in Doha

Conlan will now meet Murodjon Akhmadaliev of Uzbekistan in the decider, his victory yesterday confirming that Doha 2015 is Ireland's most successful ever World Championships.

Michael O'Reilly had to settle for bronze, while Joe Ward bids for the light-heavy final today.

Conlan said: "I'm really looking forward to the final now but it means nothing until I have gold.

"I haven't watched the guy I face in the final but I know he is good.

"I need to perform again to get the win but I'm very happy with how I've been performed throughout. I feel that I've been winning very easy and boxing very comfortably and to win gold would cap off what has already been the best year of my life.

"I felt very relaxed in the ring, the lads in the corner told me I needed to win the third round and I was confident.

"I kept my cool and held by patience, I didn't panic. I just knew I had to keep to my gameplan because he was going to fold."

There was disappointment for middleweight O'Reilly when he was outpointed by Uzbekistan's Bektemir Melikuziev, the world No 17 and Asian champion.

The Portlaoise boxer could face a box-off with the other last four loser to book his place at the Rio Olympics next year. This isn't certain though as convoluted AIBA rules mean another path may possibly open up depending on other results.

Ryan Burnett lifted his first belt as a professional at the Manchester Arena on Saturday night when he defeated Hungarian Robert Kanalas in two rounds.

Unbeaten Belfast man Burnett picked up the WBO European title and now turns his attention to a British title clash with Jason Booth in London on November 23.

Swashbuckling Burnett dominated the late replacement from the start and when the 23-year-old opened up he dropped the Magyar at the start of the second round and a further barrage of blows led to referee Steve Gray calling a halt at 1:24.

"I would've liked a few more rounds but I'm getting plenty in the gym," said Burnett. "Jason Booth will be a tough test for me and I expect him to bring his best."

Coach and manager Adam Booth said: "If he keeps improving I see Ryan genuinely being top ten in the world within a year."

Belfast Telegraph

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