Boxing: Joe Ward and Jason Quigley seal World Championship medals
Joe Ward and Jason Quigley are guaranteed at least a bronze medal each at the AIBA World Elite Men's Championships in Kazakhstan.
Quigley and Ward beat Hungary's Zoltan Harcsa and Russia's Nikita Ivanov respectively in yesterday's quarter-finals to mark the first occasion that Irish boxing has won two medals at the same World Elite Championships.
But there was treble disappointment for Belfast boxing yesterday after London 2012 bronze medallists Paddy Barnes and Michael Conlan, and Tommy McCarthy, crashed out at the last-eight stage.
For Westmeath man Ward, who celebrates his 20th birthday next Wednesday, a historic World hat-trick of gold medals in three different weight and age classes as a teenager is on the cards.
The Irish champion claimed AIBA World Junior light-middleweight gold in 2009 and AIBA World Youth middleweight gold in 2010.
He's now be aiming for AIBA World Elite light-heavyweight gold. Cuba's Julio La Cruz-Peraza will stand in his way of a place in Saturday's final tomorrow.
Ward beat Ivanov, the European champion, yesterday. The Russian sustained a cut over his left eye after taking some heavy shots and was retired 2:27 into the first round.
Under the rules, if a fight is stopped because of injury the boxer that is ahead on points – Ward was 10-9 up on all three cards – wins the fight.
"There was only going to be one outcome anyway. Joe was well on top.
"The Cuban, who won gold at the 2011 World Championships, will be very tricky in the semi-finals.
"He had a good win over the Algerian today," said Irish head coach Billy Walsh.
Ward, who beat Ivanov in the 2011 European final when he was just 17, is enjoying every moment of the 17th AIBA World Elite Championships.
"I boxed him in 2011. It was completely different because he was physically stronger than me and it was different scoring," said Ward. "I said to myself going in there today that I had to go from the start in the centre and drive him back as much as I can.
"I nailed him with a straight left. Billy, Zaur and Eddie (Irish coaches) were telling me when he comes out to meet him every time he throws – left hand, right hook. I caught him with a left hand, right hook and he fell forward. I'm not sure if he hit my head or the punches did it. Whatever it was it caused a lot of damage.
"It's unbelievable, A European gold and a World bronze at 19 years of age. I'm enjoying every moment of it."
Earlier, Jason Quigley had dropped Hungary's Zoltan Harcsa in the second en route to booking his ticket into the middleweight semi-final on a unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27).
Harcsa hit the floor after being caught with a big overhand right, and Quigley, the European Elite champion, was on his way to his 31st successive victory.
"I caught him with a lovely right hand in the second round and he went down from it. I'm ready for anybody," said Quigley, who will meet Russia's Artem Chebotarev in the last-four.
Meanwhile, Barnes lost out to Uzbekistan's Jasurbek Latipov on a unanimous decision. Both boxers were docked a point after receiving public warnings for dropping their heads in the second round.
Barnes also sustained a cut on his forehead – probably after accidentally hitting his head off Latipov's knee in the first round of a contest which was marred by constant infringements, particularly by Latipov.
Barnes, who was aiming to become the only Irish boxer besides Katie Taylor and John Joe Nevin to medal at all the majors, cut a disconsolate figure after the decision and later aired his displeasure on his Twitter account.
"Was out on my feet in the 1st round and didn't recover. Blurred vision for 3 rds with head clashes!" he wrote before adding, "fighting with no headgear is good, but to fight 6 times in 10 days without it is impossible."
Conlan went out on a unanimous decision to Russia's Nikita Nikitin in the bantamweight class and McCarthy was edged out on a split decision by Yamil Peralta of Argentina.
A comment saying "sign me up" – which could be seen as an invitation to pro promoters – appeared on Conlan's Twitter account after his loss.
Today is a rest day at the Championships. The semi-finals will be decided tomorrow and on Saturday. No Irish male has reached an AIBA World Elite final since the inaugural tournament in Havana in 1974.