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Boxing: Walker and Irvine joy as they land Irish titles

By David Kelly

Kurt Walker and Brendan Irvine delivered two silky performances to land the bantamweight and light-flyweight titles at the Irish senior championships in Dublin's National Stadium last night.

Walker won his all-Ulster battle at 56kg with Sean Higginson after three rounds in which he dominated from the first bell to the last.

Gutsy Higginson was aiming to keep the title in the St John Bosco club with clubmate Michael Conlan on World Series of Boxing duty but Walker made it clear from the start he was in for a frustrating night.

Walker went on the front foot and speared home his jab repeatedly, while swaying away from Higginson's counter blows.

The Canal ABC boxer's footwork and hand speed was proving too much for Higginson, who tried to gain a foothold at the start of the second but only walked into a series of solid pot-shots.

Lisburn man Walker, who retained his Ulster senior title just before Christmas, maintained his dominance with his sharp assaults and in the third he hit cruise control. With his hands held low, he punished Higginson from every angle, slamming home left leads to the head and straight rights down below.

At the bell the two men embraced and when the unanimous decision - 30-27, 30-26, 30-27 - was read out, Walker sunk to his knees in celebration.

The opening contest of the night was a tighter affair on the scorecards but Irvine of St Paul's Antrim seemed to have done more than enough to take the decision over Hugh Myers in the light-fly final.

With double Olympic bronze medallist Paddy Barnes also competing in the WSB, sharp-shooter Irvine made sure the light-fly title remained in Antrim hands as he largely controlled the action with his rapier jab - taking a unanimous decision 30-27, 29-28, 29-28.

Sean McComb of Holy Trinity made it a hat-trick for Antrim boxers when he picked up his second Irish senior lightweight title.

There was very little between McComb and George Bates over three tight and at times untidy rounds but the Belfast man seemed to do enough in rounds one and three to deserve the title on a split decision - 30-27, 29-28, 27-30.

There was no surprise at welterweight when, in the absence of champion Stephen Donnelly of All Saints, Adam Nolan took the title.

Nolan of Bray always had the edge over a game John Joe Joyce, winning 30-27, 30-26, 30-27.

Other results: 75kg: Michael O'Reilly (Portlaoise, Laois) bt Stephen Broadhurst (Dealgan, Dundalk) (O'Reilly wins 30-27, 30-26, 30-27); 91kg: Darren O'Neill (Paulstown, Kilkenny) bt Ken Okungbowa (Athlone) (O'Neill wins 30-27, 30-27, 28-29).

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