Tuesday 26 September 2017

Desmond stuns European No 1 seed to keep Olympic dream alive

Katie Taylor will be a hot favourite to beat Denmark’s Yvonne Rasmussen in the quarter-finals of European Olympic qualifiers in Samsun, Turkey. Photo: Cody Glenn/Sportsfile
Katie Taylor will be a hot favourite to beat Denmark’s Yvonne Rasmussen in the quarter-finals of European Olympic qualifiers in Samsun, Turkey. Photo: Cody Glenn/Sportsfile

Bernard O'Neill

World No 1 ranked lightweight Katie Taylor and Ceire Smith cruised into the quarter-finals of their European Olympic qualifiers in Samsun, Turkey yesterday.

But Cork middleweight Christina Desmond grabbed the headlines on her last day as a teenager.

The Leeside southpaw, who turns 20 today, sensationally dumped Dutch No 1 seed Nouchka Fontijan out of the tournament.

The World Youth silver medallist took the first two rounds 10-9 across the board against the current European Elite champion and World Elite bronze medallist.

One judge scored the third to Fontijan, but the other two opted for Desmond. Fontijan took the last frame, but the Cork 'leftie' had enough in the bank to seal a stunning victory.

The Fr Horgans BC representative now meets Hungary's 2013 World Youth gold medallist Petra Scatmari tomorrow two wins away from qualifying for Rio.

"My twin brother Michael isn't very pleased that I'll miss our birthday celebrations but he's thrilled that I won and so am I," said Desmond. "I didn't mind being the underdog, suited me fine. She's (Fontijan) the best in Europe if not the best in the world. I knew if I performed I was right in there with a shout and I gave it everything."

Taylor, meanwhile, eased past the Czech Republic's Martina Schmoranzova and will be a hot favourite to beat Denmark's Yvonne Rasmussen in the quarter-finals tomorrow.

"Katie was classy. There was never any time when she was in danger. The three ladies all won well today and Christina was a total sensation altogether," said Joe Hennigan, the Irish team manager.

Hennigan, however, believes that Wexford light-welter Dean Walsh did enough to beat Azerbaijan's No 1 seed Lorenzo Sotomayor, who edged a split decision.

Two of the judges went with the Azeri, but a third gave Walsh all three rounds in a controversial 29-28-29-28,27-30 verdict. Smith beat Hungary's Virginia Barankas in the women's flyweight class and Brendan Irvine, the No 1 seed in the men's flyweight class, outpointed Germany's Hamza Touba.

Tipperary's Dean Gardiner went out Azeri super-heavy Mahammadrausl Majidov, who beat recently crowned IBF World professional champion Anthony Joshua in the 2011 AIBA World Elite final, on a unanimous decision last night.

London 2012 Olympian Darren O'Neill, David Oliver Joyce and Michael O'Reilly are in action today. The top three men and the top two women in Samsun qualify for Rio 2016.

Irish Independent

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