Sunday 26 January 2020

Joyce seals three-in-a-row gold rush after European win

Ireland's gold medal winner David Oliver Joyce arrives back in Dublin Airport from the 8th European Union Elite Championships in Sofia, Bulgaria. Dublin Airport, Dublin. Picture credit: Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE
Ireland's gold medal winner David Oliver Joyce arrives back in Dublin Airport from the 8th European Union Elite Championships in Sofia, Bulgaria. Dublin Airport, Dublin. Picture credit: Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE

Bernard O'Neill

Ireland's Elite boxers were denied top spot in the medals table at the EU Men's Elite Championships for the second time in a row on two split decisions in Bulgaria.

David Oliver Joyce claimed his third successive EU gold medal at the championships on a unanimous decision over Georgia's Otar Eranosyan.

The St Michael's Athy lightweight held a slender lead going in to the third and final round and two right uppercuts helped seal a 29-28,29-28,29-28 verdict from a fiery 60kg clash.

Joyce won gold at the last EU Championships in 2009 and 2008. Saturday's win saw him match Ken Egan's record of three gold medals at this level. Katie Taylor has won five EU women's gold medals.

Joyce, 27, a five-time Irish Elite champion, didn't even realise he was going for his third EU gold medal.

"I thought that I was going for back-to-back gold medals, but someone told me that they saw on FaceBook that I was going for my third gold, I didn't even know, he said.

"There was a bit of pressure on me after winning Chemistry Cup gold in May, but my target in Sofia was always gold and I'm delighted to have got there.

"The Georgian was tough, but we watched him in Sofia and studied DVDs of him. The plan was to keep him on the back foot and take him out of his comfort zone and it worked."

But while Joyce was celebrating an historic two-weight hat-trick, London 2012 Olympian Darren O'Neill and Michael O'Reilly dropped split decisions in the light-heavy and middleweight finals.

O'Neill - who was beaten by O'Reilly on a split decision in February's Irish Elite middleweight final - lost to Valentino Manfredonia.

The Kilkenny southpaw shaded the first round and ran away the second, two flashing left-hooks forcing Manfredonia into standing counts.

But the Italian dominated the third round and two of the judges - despite the two standing counts - leaned in his favour (29-28,29-28,27-29) after the final bell.

Two judges also favoured France's Christian Ossomo at the expense of O'Reilly in a very close middleweight final (29-28,29-28,28-29).

Ireland, with one gold, two silver and one bronze, courtesy of Hughie Myers, finished in fourth spot in the medals table behind Italy, Moldova and Bulgaria, and in third spot in the rankings table.

Ireland's top-four finishes were achieved minus AIBA World No 2 and No 3 Michael Conlan and Paddy Barnes, who competed in the recent Commonwealth Games, and AIBA World No 9 Joe Ward who is out injured at the moment.

Meanwhile, Donegal middleweight Jason Quigley stopped Mexico's Fernando Najera to improve to two wins from two at the StubHub in California on Saturday.

Najera was retired on his stool at the end of the third with a cut over his left eye. Quigley met Najera on the Kell Brook versus Shawn Porter undercard.

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