McComb sets up Cruz test but Walker bows out
Ireland experienced mixed fortunes on 4-1 split decisions on Day 1 of the World Elite Championships in Hamburg, Germany yesterday, with Sean McComb advancing but Kurt Walker bowing out.
Antrim bantam Walker admitted that yesterday's fight with Leonel De Los Santos of the Dominican Republic was a blur after he was dropped.
The Americas Continental champion and Rio Olympian floored Walker with a devastating double left hook in the final 30 seconds of the first round en route to victory.
But there was better news for Sean McComb of the Holy Trinity BC in Belfast after he out-boxed Brazilian light-welter Joedison De Jesus in an all-southpaw battle.
Walker (Canal BC) showed tremendous courage to get back on his feet after being felled late in the first. The final scores read 30-25, 30-26, 30-26, 30-25 to Los Santos and 29-28 to the Irishman.
The reversal means that the bantam title that Michael Conlan won at the 2015 Worlds will not be staying in Ireland. Zaur Antia and Conlan's dad John, were working Walker's corner yesterday.
Los Santos, counter-punching fluently, won the first 10-8 on all cards courtesy of the knockdown, but Walker got back in the fight after being floored and if there was another round in it, it could have been one of the great Irish comebacks.
He said: "It's the first time I've ever been dropped. I boxed well in the second and third. He caught (knockdown) me clean. I can't remember, I'll have to watch it back. It's just a blur, the whole day."
Meantime, McComb will now meet Cuba's World Series of Boxing and Americas champion Andy Cruz, who has moved up two weights, for a place in the quarter-finals on Sunday. Cruz is the No 2 seed in Hamburg.
But that's unlikely to bother McComb who has impressed since moving to light-welter and who beat Russia's current world champion Vitaly Dunaytsev twice this year in Dublin and the Ukraine.
The Irish champion worked from head to body well yesterday and the only surprise was that one judge went with De Jesus - 29-28, 29-28, 29-28, 29-28, 28-29. Both men needed medical attention for cuts on their brows in the final round.
Tipperary super-heavy Dean Gardiner is in action versus Korean southpaw Hyeon Do Kim tonight. Rio Olympians Joe Ward and Brendan Irvine received byes into the last 16 on Monday.
Ward awaits the winner of today's bout between Georgia's Iago Kizara and Scotland's Sean Lazzerini and Irvine awaits who emerges from the flyweight clash between Kazakhstan's Zamat Issakulov and Korea's Inkyu Kim.