Michael Conlan was left heartbroken yesterday as he missed out on a bronze medal at the World Championships by a whisker.
Welshman Andrew Selby, the reigning European champion, hung on to make the flyweight semi-finals in Azerbaijan with a 25-24 decision after one of the contests of the tournament.
Irish champion Conlan has had a fortnight to remember, having produced four excellent performances, including yesterday’s barnstorming display, and qualifying for London 2012.
While Conlan exited along with middleweight Darren O’Neill, Mullingar’s John Joe Nevin will be taking home at least a bronze after coming from behind to defeat Orzubek Shayimov of Uzbekistan 19-17 in their bantamweight quarter-final.
Conlan found himself immediately under pressure from the flashing fists of Selby and while he responded well, the Belfast man trailed 7-4 after the opening round.
Conlan’s right hand in particular started to land with great effect as the two men exchanged quality punches. Conlan edged the second 10-9 but he could easily have been given a couple more points.
Trailing by two going into the final three minutes, the St John Bosco man had the better of the first half of the round as they went toe to toe.
The leather was thrown at a relentless rate right up to the final bell and the decision could have gone either way.
Conlan said: “I'm going to London and I'm happy.
“Selby ran in the last round and I couldn't catch up with him. He was very fast on his feet.
“I had three hard fights. He didn't have hard fights because he was seeded. I fought the number two seed, a two-time European medallist and I beat him, and I fought a guy from Kazakhstan, and Kazakhstan is one of the best countries in the world for boxing — they were all wars.
“Selby just ran in all of his fights, while I've had wars.”
Nevin, who won bronze at the 2009 World Championships, is now the only male boxer to win two medals at the Worlds in the 100-year history of the Irish Amateur Boxing Association.
The 22-year-old now meets England's 2008 European champion Luke Campbell in the semi-finals tomorrow.
Nevin was three points down (7-4) versus Shayimov yesterday but reduced the deficit to two points (11-9) at the end of the second before putting in yet another big final round for a 19-17 victory.
“I have been in with Campbell before and I beat him 13-2 but that was two years ago. He has improved a lot since that.
“This will be a good fight. I know it will be a very tough fight but I’ll really be up for it,” said Nevin.
KIlkenny southpaw O'Neill lost out in his quest for a medal following an 18-9 quarter-final defeat to Ryota Murata of Japan.
O’Neill said: “I came to the World Championships hoping to qualify for the Olympics Games. I've done that.”
England’s super-heavyweight Anthony Joshua produced a major upset to outpoint the reigning world and Olympic champion Roberto Cammarelle.