Thursday 18 January 2018

Brendan Irvine through to light flyweight final at the European Games in Baku

Irvine and Alizada tussle in the centre of the ring in the quarter-final
Irvine and Alizada tussle in the centre of the ring in the quarter-final

Brendan Irvine proved too strong for European Youth gold medallist Dmytro Zamotayev of the Ukraine in the semi-finals of the European Games in Baku.

The Belfast light flyweight will now fight for gold tomorrow after all three judges gave him the contest in a gutsy display.

Irvine engaged his more experienced opponent from the first bell and won an all-action contest to underline his nation's quality in the lower weight classes.

Irvine is only competing in Baku because compatriot Paddy Barnes, the two-time Olympic bronze medallist, has already qualified for the Rio Games next year.

Katie Taylor will have no fear of finding herself on the wrong end of a home-town verdict when she faces Azerbaijan's Yana Alekseevna in the women's lightweight semi-finals at the European Games in Baku.

Ireland's five-time world champion was in imperious form as she unanimously outpointed young Swede Ida Lundblad on Wednesday to guarantee she will add yet another medal to her illustrious collection.

And Taylor insists the prospect of facing a fighter from a buoyant home nation squad will not faze her as she has plenty of experience of winning important bouts far from home.

Taylor said: "I've boxed many people in their own backyard plenty of times - in China I boxed a Chinese girl in the final of the world championships and I've boxed Russians before in their home nation as well.

"I don't really change much, there's not much I can do about the judging in front of a home crowd. I go into every fight trying to win as easy as I can. I'm not going to change anything really,

"She's very clever and these are the kind of fights that I love to box - such a big fight against the home nation. I'm really looking forward to it."

Teenager Lundblad was no pushover but Taylor produced four rounds of such sustained quality that the Swede was left applauding her opponent at the end of the bout.

Taylor's team-mate Michael O'Reilly guaranteed Ireland a middleweight medal with a conclusive unanimous decision win over Aljaz Venko.

Irish captain Darren O’Neill was extremely unlucky to lose out at the last-eight stage to Gevorg Manukian of the Ukraine.

The Kilkenny southpaw and London 2012 Olympian won the last two rounds after splitting the judges in his favour against the rugged Ukrainian heavyweight.

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