Monday 23 January 2017

Michael Conlan crowned European bantamweight boxing champion

Sean McGoldrick

Published 15/08/2015 | 17:41

Michael Conlan celebrates victory over Qais Ashfaq, Great Britain, during their 56kg bantam weight final bout. EUBC Elite European Boxing Championships, Samokov, Bulgaria. Picture credit: Pat Murphy / SPORTSFILE
Michael Conlan celebrates victory over Qais Ashfaq, Great Britain, during their 56kg bantam weight final bout. EUBC Elite European Boxing Championships, Samokov, Bulgaria. Picture credit: Pat Murphy / SPORTSFILE

Olympic bronze medallist Michael Conlan has defeated Qais Ashfaqhas in the European bantamweight final.

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In the final in Samokov, Bulgaria the Irishman bullied his British opponent Qais Ashfaq to record a 3-0 unanimous win. It was the second time Ashfaq had lost to the Irishman as Conlan beat him in the gold medal bout at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow last summer. He was later named boxer of the tournament.

This is Conlan's fourth major championship medal; having previously won a silver medal at the European championships in Minsk in 2013 when he lost in the final to Welshman Andrew Selby in the flyweight final.

He won bronze at the London Olympics in 2012 and gold at the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

Conlan has already qualified for next year Olympic in Rio but his big aim will be to medal at the World championships in Doha and thus become the only Irish male boxer along with John Joe Nevin to win medals at the European, World and Olympic Games.

Conlan opted to box against in orthodox fashion against the British boxer who is a southpaw. The first round was very cagey but the Belfast bantamweight showed all his skills to to avoid his opponent's best shots but crucially he scored with enough shots himself to give him a crucial 10-9 lead from all three judges.

Ashfaq had a bit more success in getting through in the second round although essentially it remained a technical fight. This was reflected in the scoring as one of the judges gave the UK fighter the round 10-9. The volume of punches thrown by Conlan give him the verdict on the other two judges' card to leave the Irish man in control 20-18; 20-18; 19-19.

Conlan, as expected, switched to southpaw in the third round as he was happy to defend his advantage and forcing his opponent to come forward which was against his natural instinct. Again Conlan got through with the majority of punches.

The Olympic bronze medalist won the round 10-9 on all three judges' card on his way to winning his first European title on an unamimous 30-27; 30-27; 29-28 verdict.

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