Monday 22 July 2019

Buckley delighted

Bray's Regan confident of bright future after bronze

Bronze medallist Regan Buckley of Ireland following the men’s light flyweight medal ceremony at Uruchie Sports Palace on Day 10 of the Minsk 2019 2nd European Games
Bronze medallist Regan Buckley of Ireland following the men’s light flyweight medal ceremony at Uruchie Sports Palace on Day 10 of the Minsk 2019 2nd European Games

Paddy Hickey

Bray boxer Regan Buckley has set his sights on a gold medal in future championships after his tremendous success in last week's European Championships in Belarus.

In just his first major championships, the 22-year-old from the Cois Cairn estate off Old Connaught Avenue, surpassed all expectations by claiming a bronze medal in the light fly division.

Starting off with a win over Russian Bator Sagalvev, Buckley, who first took up kick-boxing at the age of nine because he was being bullied, then swept aside Spaniard Martin Molina-Salvador before coming up short against eventual gold medalist, Arthur Hovhannisyan, of Armenia, in the semi-finals.

"The World Championships are on at the end of this year in Russia, and then next summer we have the Olympics in Tokyo, and I hope to do even better in those than I did in the Europeans," stressed Buckley, who was the recipient of a tremendous welcome from friends and well-wishers at the Coach Inn pub on Monday evening.

"There are a few things that I need to work on and I am confident that I will be a more accomplished boxer when the World Championships and the Olympics come around."

Regarding his run to the semi-finals in Minsk, Buckley said: "As a junior or senior, I had never been to a major international competition before, so I was coming over to Minsk looking more for experience than anything else.

"So to get a bronze medal over there was certainly unbelievable, and especially against the calibre of the three lads that I was fighting, and as well they all had a lot more international experience than I had, and they were up there with the best boxers in the world.

"The first guy that I fought was an European Games champion in 2015, he actually beat the Irish boxer Brendan Irvine in the final.

"And the second guy - the Spanish guy - he was really experienced internationally and he had some great wins against some world class operators.

"And in the last fight the guy represented Armenia in the Rio Olympics in 2016, and he went on to win the gold medal fairly easily in the final on Saturday against a lad from Georgia. So the three of those lads were real quality boxers."

Buckley went on: "So for me to come out on top in two of those three fights was really amazing, as going to Minsk I felt that the championships would be a stepping stone for me and to gauge where I was at.

"And if someone had told me before I went that I would win a bronze medal I would have been absolutely delighted.

"But getting to the final was within my grasp, and I know now that there are a couple of things I need to work on to make the last little inch between losing in the semi-finals and winning a final, as there's no limit to how far I can go in any of the major championships.

And in a comment on his semi-final bout, Buckley, who trains at the St Teresa's Boxing Club on the Boghall Road, said: "It was a 3-2 split decision, so it was very tight.

"When the fight was over, I was confident that I had done enough to win it. I thought that my first round was very good, I was boxing at long range, and he didn't hit me much at all in the first round.

"In the second round I started to push the pace a little more, and I hit him with some nice body shots, I thought that I had done more than enough to win the second round as well.

"And in the last round I went in close with him, which is his style, He could have got the third round, but it was very close as well.

"When the fight was over, you kind of know when the referee holds your hand, you have in your head that you either won this fight or you lost this fight before the decision is made.

"When I was waiting for the decision I was confident enough that the referee would put my hand in the air, but it didn't happen on the day and that's just boxing.

"The judges might have seen something different than I thought was happening in the fight, and you just have to take it on the chin and you move on."

Wicklow People