Thursday 21 September 2017

Joe Ward breezes into last eight of Europeans but it's heartache for captain O'Neill

Joe Ward
Joe Ward
Kurt Walker

Sean McGoldrick

As expected, number one seed Joe Ward breezed into the last eight with a convincing victory over Matus Strnisko from Slovakia in the light middleweight division of the European boxing championships in the Ukraine.

The Moate man dropped his opponent with a left body shot and forced him to take a count.

Ward took his foot off the pedal for the remaining two rounds and barely broke sweat as he recorded a unanimous win which secures him a spot at the World championships.

There was no joy, however, for Irish captain Darren O'Neil.  In possibly his last appearance in a major championship he was beaten 4-1 by Ukraine's Ramazazaqn Musilimov in the heavyweight class.

Meanwhile, Dublin middleweight Emmet Brennan lost to advance Kamran Shakhsuvarly from Azerbaijan in a last 16 contest.

Earlie, bantamweight Kurt Walker is through to the quarter-finals of the European boxing championships in the Ukraine.

He defeated number two seed Tayfur Aliyev on a split decision in Kharkiv. This victory means that he will join fellow Ulster boxers, Brendan Irvine and Sean McComb at the World championship in Hamburg in August/September.

Seen by some as a natural successor to reigning World, European and Commonwealth bantamweight champion Michael Conlan, Walker justified some of the hype with a workman like performance against the Azeri fighter who had received a bye into the last 16.

Walker suffered a cut in his opening fight and the wound over his right brow opened up in the final round. But a series of scoring punches near the end of the contest swung the narrow decision in favour of Walker.

He will now fight Italian Raffaele Di Serio in the quarter-finals on Thursday afternoon with the winner guaranteed a bronze medal and a place in the semi-final of the 56kg class in which Conlan (2015) and John Joe Nevin (2013) are the last two European title holders.

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