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Boxing: Joyce edges Murtagh in thriller at Elite Championships


John Joe Joyce Photo: Paul Greenwood / Sportsfile

John Joe Joyce Photo: Paul Greenwood / Sportsfile

John Joe Joyce Photo: Paul Greenwood / Sportsfile

BEIJING Olympian John Joe Joyce was left breathing a sigh of relief on Saturday after claiming a tense double countback win over Crumlin welterweight Shane Murtagh at the Elite Championships at the National Stadium in Dublin.

You could hear a pin drop at the home of Irish boxing before Joyce, the defending champion, got a 4-1 decision over the Dubliner when it went back to the five judges after the clash finished at 4-4 and tied at 11-11 after the first countback.

The championships -- which coincides with the IABA's 100th birthday -- are once again showing total disregard for the reputations of some of the world's top amateur boxers. Olympic Youth champion Ryan Burnett, Northern Ireland's Commonwealth Games gold medallist Paddy Gallagher, world senior quarter-finalist Willie McLaughlin and 2008 World Youth champion Ray Moylette all exited over the weekend.

Three-time senior champion and 2007 European Union gold-medalist Roy Sheehan is also out after losing 2-1 to Jamie Dowling in the welterweight class.

Burnett, who claimed a silver medal at the 2010 AIBA World Youths, was edged 4-3 on his Elite Senior debut by his fellow Belfast flyweight Michael Conlon and the 64kg title is now vacant, after Moylette, from the St Anne's BC in Westport, dropped a 5-3 decision to Belfast's James McDonagh on Saturday afternoon.

Meanwhile, Sligo's Thomas Roohan will face Ken Egan -- who is aiming for an unprecedented 11th title in a row -- in the light-heavyweight semi-finals next Friday after beating Brian Fitzpatrick 4-2 on Saturday.

The second semi-final will be between Joe Ward and either Davey Joe Joyce or Sean Allen on Saturday night. Joyce and Allen clashed in Saturday's quarter-finals, but a malfunction in the computer scoring system saw the bout postponed at the end of the second round. They'll meet again next Friday with the winner facing World Youth champion Ward.

Because of the computer malfunction seven of Saturday's quarter-finals were decided on judges' markings. Defending heavyweight champ Con Sheehan earned a 5-0 unanimous decision over Belfast's Tommy McCarthy in the 90kg quarter-finals.

Meanwhile, 2009 World Senior bronze medalist John Joe Nevin saw off the challenge of Dublin bantamweight George Bates.

Irish Independent