Walsh insists McComb can improve on bronze
Irish head coach Billy Walsh believes that Albert Selimov, the only man to have beaten Ukraine's two-time Olympic champion Vasyl Lomachenko in the amateur ranks, will have his work cut out against Ireland's Sean McComb.
McComb, who boxes out of Belfast's Holy Trinity BC, outgunned Turkey's Yasin Yilmaz on a unanimous verdict (29-28,29-28,29-28) yesterday to join Brendan Irvine in the semi-finals of the European Games in Baku, Azerbaijan.
McComb and Irvine are guaranteed at least bronze, but London 2012 Olympian Adam Nolan and Dean Walsh dropped unanimous and split decisions to British welter Josh Kelly and German light-welter Kastriot Sopa respectively yesterday.
Selimov, who claimed most of his major honours boxing for Russia but who is now fighting for Azerbaijan, who are using at least one top Cuban coach in Baku, awaits McComb in the last four on Friday.
The Irish lightweight won the first two rounds against the 2015 Great Silk Way quarter-finalist in yesterday's battle of the southpaws, but the judges split in favour Yilmaz in the third.
Boxing mostly off the back foot, McComb picked off his durable opponent and finished with a flourish, a straight left rattling the Turk on the final bell.
"Fantastic day and delighted to get amongst the medals. Three wins now and another big test in the semi-finals, I can't wait for that," said McComb. "My fitness gives me confidence. I know I'm fitter than anyone out there. We're one of the best teams here, no doubt about it. For a small island we're doing something here."
Billy Walsh added: "We know Albert (Selimov) from training camp and sparring. He's obviously a world-class boxer, but Sean will be a very tricky opponent for him, let me tell you."
The Irish head coach's nephew, Dean, was on the wrong end of a 29-27, 29-27,29-27 verdict to Sopa. Walsh was docked a point after a public warning for reckless use of his head in the second.
Sopa might have got a public warning for ignoring instructions from the ref, but even if he had received boxing's equivalent of a yellow card he would have still won 28-27 across the board. Sunderland-born Kelly needed medical attention to a gash over his eye in the third round of a very tight meeting with Wexford southpaw Nolan in their quarter-final.
The elusive British fighter split the judges in his favour in the first and won the second across the board. Nolan clearly won the third. Kelly earned a 29-28,29-28,28-29 split decision. "I probably should have left a bit more in there, I was a little gun-shy and I didn't throw enough punches as he's a counter-puncher. That's probably what cost me," admitted Nolan.
Meanwhile, Brendan Irvine meets 2013 European Youth gold medallist Dmytro Zamotayev of the Ukraine in the semi-finals at 3pm (Irish time) today.
Olympic champion Katie Taylor (8.45am), Michael O'Reilly (9.15pm) and Irish captain Darren O'Neill (10.0am) are in quarter-final action today.