Quigley and Ward march on with gold in their sights
Donegal's Jason Quigley and Moate's Joe Ward are the last men standing for Ireland at the World championships in Almaty, Kazakhstan.
Both men secured at least a bronze medal yesterday after two superb performances.
Quigley, the number five seed, defeated Hungary's number four seed Zoltan Harsca on a unanimous decision. All three judges gave it to the Finn Valley clubman 30-27 across the board.
Not that Quigley was waiting for the official result to be announced. The current European champion took off around the ring blowing kisses to the crowd before the ringside announcer confirmed that he would be fighting for a place in the final tomorrow.
Keeping his tactics direct and simple against the rangy Hungarian, Quigley found the target with some big rights throughout the contest and finished each round strongly.
Harsca, whose left jab was flicking around Quigley's bobbing head throughout, went down under a booming right in the second. Quigley ended that round on the front foot as well.
The third was a more cagey affair, neither boxer dominating, but Quigley had done more than enough to secure Ireland's eighth World Championships medal since the inaugural tournament in Havana in 1974.
"It's a massive achievement for me," said Quigley.
"I went in there and I didn't try to complicate things.
"I went in there with a game plan, two or three things to do. I caught him with a lovely right hand in the second round and he went down from it.
"I'm ready for anybody. I'm ready for anything."
Quigley will now meet Russia's Artem Chebotarev in tomorrow's semi-final.
Ward's amazing record as a senior boxer at the tender age of 19 is quite remarkable having already been crowned European champion as well as dethroning Irish hero Kenny Egan as national champion and he delivered another fine display to defeat Russia's Nikita Ivanov and secure his place in the last four of the light-heavyweight division.
Ivanov, who was beaten by Ward in the 2011 European Elite final in Turkey, took a number of heavy shots in the opening round and sustained a cut over his left eye before the fight was stopped at 2:27.
Ward was 10-9 ahead on all three cards and took a unanimous decision.
Next up for Ward is Cuban Julio De La Cruz-Peraza in what could prove to be a classic fight between two world class operators.
De La Cruz defeated Russia's Yegor Mekhontsev, the current Olympic champion, and Australia's Damien Hooper – both of whom Ward has also beaten in the past – en route to gold at the 2011 World Elite Championships in Azerbaijan.
Yesterday marked the first occasion that Irish boxers have won two medals at the same AIBA World Elite Men's Championships.
Ireland has now claimed nine medals – all bronze, so far – since Havana 1974.
Quigley and Ward will be aiming to upgrade the colours of those medals tomorrow.