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'Robbed' Brendan Irvine has to settle for silver

By Jonathan Bradley

Published 26/06/2015

Split decision: Brendan Irvine gets in a left hook in the final against Russia's Bator Sagaluev
Split decision: Brendan Irvine gets in a left hook in the final against Russia's Bator Sagaluev
Brendan Irvine with his silver medal after the bout

Brendan Irvine was forced to settle for a silver medal in his lightweight final at the inaugural European Games.

The Belfast boxer lost a split decision to the Russian Bator Sagaluev in Azerbaijan yesterday afternoon.

The 19-year-old admitted that, while pleased with his performances in Baku, he believed he had edged the final bout.

"There's a lot of a mixed emotion," he said.

"I'm delighted with the silver, but so very disappointed to lose in the final.

"He was quite sharp in the first and for the first 15 seconds of the second, but I took over from there and he didn't want to know. I thought I did enough to win."

Sagaluev took the first round on all three scorecards, with two of the judges also giving the Russian the second.

There was no doubt about the third, Irvine getting the nod on all three cards, but, according to two of the three judges, he lost the fight 29-28.

Billy Walsh, who alongside Zaur Anita has worked Irvine's corner throughout the Games, also felt that the St Paul's clubman should have been awarded gold.

"We're very proud of Brendan, but disappointed at losing the decision," he said.

"We thought he won. I can't understand it (the second round), the Russian guy had a good spell of a few seconds at the start and the finish.

"I thought we won rounds two and three. He hit his opponent more than he hit him. That's supposed to be the name of the game.

"But Brendan hit him with loads of punches in the two and a half minutes in between. Brendan is just 19 and he's won a silver medal at his first major tournament, a fantastic achievement for such a young man."

Despite his loss yesterday, the Irish senior champion has enjoyed a real breakthrough week in the Azeri capital.

On Monday, he became the first competitor to claim a medal for the Irish team with a hugely impressive win over crowd favourite and top seed Salman Alizada in the 49kg quarter-finals.

Two days later, he secured a compelling victory over the Ukraine's Dmytro Zamotayev, despite losing the first round, to set up yesterday's meeting with Sagaluev.

By winning silver, Irvine has qualified for the AIBA World Elite Men's Championships in Qatar later this year, a competition which is now a direct qualifier for the 2016 Olympics.

Another march to the final in Doha would mean that Ireland will have earned two places for the Rio Games at 49kg, with fellow light-flyweight Paddy Barnes seeking a third medal and already qualified via the World Series of Boxing.

Given that each team can enter only yone boxer per weight class, that would most likely see Irvine end up in a box-off at a different weight for another of Ireland's places.

Fellow Belfast fighter Sean McComb will look to guarantee himself at least a silver medal this morning when he takes on Albert Selimov in the 60kg semi-finals (9.00am).

The Holy Trinity man was highly composed in his quarter-final win over Turkey's Yasin Yilmaz with the 22-year-old earning a unanimous decision.

The other semi-final (9.15am) will see France's Sofiane Oumiha take on Mateusz Polski of Poland.

Elsewhere in Baku, Donegal brothers Sam and Joshua Magee have earned themselves at least a bronze medal after advancing to the men's doubles badminton semi-finals.

The pair secured a 2-1 win over Belgium's Matijs Dierickx and Freek Golinski in yesterday's last eight contest.

Earlier in the day, playing alongside sister Chloe, Sam had won a mixed doubles group match against Malta's Samuel Cali and Fiorella Marie Sadowski 21-3 21-2.

Belfast Telegraph

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