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Aidan Walsh guaranteed Olympic medal as Belfast boxer advances to semi-final in Tokyo 

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Aidan Walsh, of Ireland, left, and Merven Clair, of Mauritius, exchange punches during their welter weight 69kg quarterfinal boxing match at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Friday, July 30, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)

Aidan Walsh, of Ireland, left, and Merven Clair, of Mauritius, exchange punches during their welter weight 69kg quarterfinal boxing match at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Friday, July 30, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)

AP

Ireland's Aidan Walsh, left, reacts after defeating Merven Clair, of Mauritius, Aidan Walsh, of Ireland, left, and Merven Clair, of Mauritius, in their welter weight 69kg quarterfinal boxing match at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Friday, July 30, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Ireland's Aidan Walsh, left, reacts after defeating Merven Clair, of Mauritius, Aidan Walsh, of Ireland, left, and Merven Clair, of Mauritius, in their welter weight 69kg quarterfinal boxing match at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Friday, July 30, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

AP

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Aidan Walsh, of Ireland, left, and Merven Clair, of Mauritius, exchange punches during their welter weight 69kg quarterfinal boxing match at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Friday, July 30, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)

Aidan Walsh has secured Ireland’s first Olympic medal in boxing since the London Olympics in 2012.

The Belfast welterweight comfortably outpointed Merven Clair from Mauritius in their quarter-final bout at the Kokugikan Areana in Tokyo.

He now meets the number one seed Pat McCormack from Britain in the semi-final on Sunday where he will have a chance to upgrade to silver.

As he did in his last 16 contest, Walsh stood off his opponent and caught him on the counter punch when he ventured forward. It was a tactical battle in the opening two rounds but Walsh’s accurate jab was finding the target whereas Clair cut a frustrated figure.

Walsh won the first round on all five judges' cards which was crucial to his game plan as it forced his opponent to come forward more frequently. Clair did have some success in round two and two of the judges give him the stanza.

But as long as he stayed upright Walsh was heading to the podium, though there was a moment of concern early in the third round when the referee warned Walsh to stand and fight. But the Belfast fighter comfortably saw out the bout to go through to the semi-final on a 4-1 majority decision - 30-27, 30-27, 30-27, 29-28, 28-29.

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He is the ninth fighter from Belfast to medal in the Olympics following in the footsteps of John McNally (1952), Freddie Gilroy and John Caldwell (1956), Jim McCourt (1964), Hugh Russell (1980), Wayne McCullagh (1992), Paddy Barnes (2008 and 2012) and Michael Conlan (2012).


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