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Belfast's Brendan Irvine books Tokyo Olympic ticket but Kurt Walker left gutted

 

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Sweet connection: Brendan Irvine unleashes on Istavan Szaka, and (right) Kurt Walker battles with Hamsat Shadolov

Sweet connection: Brendan Irvine unleashes on Istavan Szaka, and (right) Kurt Walker battles with Hamsat Shadolov

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Sharp shooter: Aidan Walsh on his way to victory over Estonia’s Pavel Kamanin

Sharp shooter: Aidan Walsh on his way to victory over Estonia’s Pavel Kamanin

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Sweet connection: Brendan Irvine unleashes on Istavan Szaka, and (right) Kurt Walker battles with Hamsat Shadolov

Belfast man Brendan Irvine made it through to the Olympics last night after a swashbuckling performance in London's CopperBox Arena, but it was heartache for Kurt Walker at the first attempt of securing his spot.

European champion Walker was expected to not only make it to Tokyo but have a real shot at coming home with a medal but in a stunning upset the Lisburn man lost a unanimous decision to awkward German Hamsat Shadolov on the final evening of the Olympic qualifying event, which was cancelled last night by the IOC due to the coronavirus.

Having suffered a freak foot injury last summer which ruled him out of the European Games, Irvine was hugely impressive as he comprehensively outboxed Hungarian Istavan Szaka over three entertaining rounds to secure back-to-back Olympic appearances, having competed in Rio four years ago.

It was a long haul back from injury for Irvine, who only returned to the ring last month, but he produced a display arguably equal to any the 23-year-old has given before. Snapping out a stinging right cross with relentless accuracy, the Belfast man also matched the ferocity of his opponent in the first round.

Winning the round on the cards of four out of the five judges, Irvine clicked up a gear as he tortured the southpaw Magyar and used his footwork to create angles from which he landed rights to the head and body. He also demonstrated a new dimension to his natural counter-punching style as Irvine, on occasion, planted his feet to deliver more spite in his blows.

It was such a dominant round that two judges scored it 10-8 for Irvine, who knew going into the final three minutes that Tokyo was on the horizon. The Belfast man took a sharp shot at the start of the third but then settled down to pick the Hungarian apart with his sharp shooting right up to the final bell.

Featherweight Walker was the final Irish boxer in the ring and he found his southpaw opponent particularly tricky in the opening three minutes, losing the round on all the cards.

The frustration continued as Walker found it very difficult to pin down the German and land any clean blows, though his aggression in the final round seemed to be enough to take it. Nevertheless, Shadolov was given a unanimous decision and Walker was left feeling gutted.

Fellow Co Antrim boxer Aidan Walsh gave a fine performance to make it through to the last-16 of the welterweight division and it now remains to be seen when and where the qualifying tournament will resume.

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Sharp shooter: Aidan Walsh on his way to victory over Estonia’s Pavel Kamanin

Sharp shooter: Aidan Walsh on his way to victory over Estonia’s Pavel Kamanin

PA

Sharp shooter: Aidan Walsh on his way to victory over Estonia’s Pavel Kamanin

 

Commonwealth Games silver medallist Walsh, one of the most improved Irish boxers over the past two years, was simply too classy for Estonia's Pavel Kamanin.

A natural counter-puncher, Monkstown ABC man Walsh picked off Kamanin with ease and never allowed his opponent to gain a foothold throughout the three rounds, rocking him in the second on his way to a points decision.

There was disappointment for Belfast flyweight Carly McNaul, who was outfoxed by Charley Davison of Team GB.

Typically, Commonwealth Games silver medallist McNaul fought with great heart but was left with a mountain to climb after losing the first two rounds to the slick English southpaw who forced the Belfast woman to take two standing counts in the third.

Meanwhile, Laois man Michael Nevin defeated Dutch middleweight Max van der Pas on a 4-1 decision.

Belfast Telegraph