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Kelyn Cassidy closes in on world championship medal after impressive win in Belgrade


Kelyn McCarthy is into the world championship quarter-final. Image credit: Sportsfile.

Kelyn McCarthy is into the world championship quarter-final. Image credit: Sportsfile.

Kelyn McCarthy is into the world championship quarter-final. Image credit: Sportsfile.

IRELAND’S Kelyn Cassidy has booked his place in the quarter-finals of the world boxing championships in Belgrade.

The 24-year-old Waterford southpaw gave another masterclass in tactical boxing to outwit his more experienced opponent, Shabbos Negmatulloev, from Tajikistan to win on a majority 4-1 verdict.

A Tokyo Olympian, Negmatulloev led 3-2 at the end of the first round but struggled afterwards to make an impact against the fleet-footed Cassidy, whose judicious use of his right jab kept the Tajikistani light heavyweight at arm’s length.

His coach was furious after the decision was announced and refused to congratulate Cassidy. But the St Savours Crystal fighter has become the unexpected Irish success story at these championships.

Even though this is his first elite international competition, Cassidy has impressed observers with his brilliant foot work and all-round tactical awareness,

He will be back in the ring on Tuesday night in searching of what would be a sensational podium finish and a guaranteed $25,000 dollars.

It took Cassidy much of the first round to get his distance right and Negmatulloev looked the more aggressive fighter and landed most of the scoring punches. The Irish fighter finally found his range in the closing stages and crucially got the nod from two of the judges.

But for the rest of the contest Cassidy was in the ascendancy as he danced around the ring and totally frustrated his opponent by keeping his distance. He took the second stanza 4-1, which left him ahead on two of the judges’ cards, level on two others and two points behind on the fifth.

He had to contend with a bloody nose in the third round as the referee repeatedly intervened. Twice he cautioned both fighters as they grappled for the first time in the contest. But again, it was Cassidy who caught the judges’ eyes with a couple of beautiful combinations and he got the nod to comfortably go through to the last eight on the following scorecards (30-27, 30-27, 29-28, 29-28, 27-30)

Cassidy will now meet Aliak Alfiarau from Belarus – the latter picked up what appeared to b a nasty cut in his victory and will have to pass a medical test in the morning before he is cleared to fight in the last eight.

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Meanwhile, a former Irish world amateur champion Michael Conlan will finally get an opportunity to fight for a version of a world title early next year.

This follows the announcement by Eddie Hearn that his company Matchroom had won the purse bid to stage the WBA ‘regular’ world title between the unbeaten Belfast fighter and the current WBA regular champion Leigh Woods. The final will be screen by DAZN.

Due to the convoluted way the WBA award world titles – they have a regular ‘champion’ and a so-called ‘super- champion’, who in the featherweight division is Leo Santa Cruz, who had a famous two-fight encounter against another Belfast boxer Carl Frampton a number of years ago.

The Conlan-Woods fight is currently billed as a final eliminator with the winner getting an opportunity to challenge Santa Cruz for what most regard as the legitimate world belt.

However, given that Santa Cruz hasn’t defended the belt since February 2019 and has since moved up to super featherweight, there is a possibility that he will be either stripped of the belt or voluntarily give it up. In this scenario the Conlan-woods fight could be upgraded to a proper world title fight.

Either way the London Olympic bronze medallist will pick up a purse of $675,000 for the fight or 45 percent of Matchroom’s bid of $1.5m for the fight, which beat Top Ranks’ offer of $1.2m. It is likely that the fight will not take place until next spring – possibly in the US but it could go ahead in Belfast where it would be a guaranteed sell-out due to Conlan’s popularity.

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