Tuesday 20 February 2018

Ireland's gold medal hopes takes a blow as Kurt Walker and Brendan Irvine suffer semi-final defeats

Kurt Walker
Kurt Walker

Sean McGoldrick

Ireland’s chances of taking three gold medals at the European boxing championships took a significant blow on Friday when Bantamweight Kurt Walker and Flyweight Brendan Irvine both suffered defeats in the semi-finals.

Lisburn’s Walker, who was bidding to follow in the footsteps of John Joe Nevin and Michael Conlan and secure the gold medal in the 56kg category, has lost his semi-final bout to Ukraine favourite Mykola Butsenko who was performing in front of his own fans.

Still in his first major championship, Walker comes home with a bronze medal and he is also assured of a place at the World championships in Hamburg in August/September.

John Joe Nevin beat Butsenko in the gold medal fight in the bantamweight division at the 2013 European championships in Minsk but Butsenko exacted revenge today.

Working off the back foot, Walker did control the early exchanges but overall Butseniko, a south-paw, was the better fighter and this was reflected in the judges’ scoring cards.

All five officials gave the Ukrainian the bout on a 30-27 score which meant he won all three rounds in their judgment.

There was no joy either for Rio Olympian Irvine who was beaten 5-0 in the flyweight semi-final by UK boxer Niall Farrell.

While Irvine was awarded one round by four of the judges, overall he could have few complaints.  Farrell used his height advantage to score regularly with his back hand which Irvine couldn’t match.

He still brings home a bronze medal from Kharkiv and will compete at the World championships in Hamburg later this year.

Joe Ward will fight Italian Valentino Manfredonia in the Light Heavyweight semi-final later this afternoon.

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