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Saturday 3 December 2016

Irish light-fly Brendan Irvine: It was a close fight

Coach Walsh shocked as he was sure Irish boxer had won gold

Brendan Irvine after being presented with his Men's Boxing Light Fly 49kg silver medal. 2015 European Games, Crystal Hall, Baku, Azerbaijan. Photo: Stephen McCarthy / Sportsfile
Brendan Irvine after being presented with his Men's Boxing Light Fly 49kg silver medal. 2015 European Games, Crystal Hall, Baku, Azerbaijan. Photo: Stephen McCarthy / Sportsfile

IRISH light-fly Brendan Irvine was controversially edged out of a gold medal a split decision in Baku, Azerbaijan, yesterday.

Russian southpaw Bator Sagaluev was adjudged to have won the 49kg final (29-28, 29-28, 28-29) - a verdict that left Ireland head coach Billy Walsh shaking his head.

"I thought we won rounds two and three. Brendan hit his opponent more than the Russian hit him. That's supposed to be the name of the game," said Walsh.

"We thought he won. I can't understand it, but we are very proud of Brendan.

"He is only 19, he's won a silver medal at his first major tournament. That's a fantastic achievement for such a young man."

Sagaluev, who had a three-inch height disadvantage, had the measure of the Antrim teenager in the opening round, which he deservedly won 10-9 across the board.

Irvine was on top for most of the second, but only one judge gave him that round even though the Antrim 19-year-old repeatedly found the target with the cleaner head and body shots.

The Irishman, continiously harassing and peppering the Russian, won the third 10-9 on all three cards but, ultimately, the second round scoring decided the destination of the gold medal.

"There's a lot of mixed emotions. I'm delighted with the silver, but so very disappointed to lose in the final," said Irvine. "He was quite sharp in the first and for the first 15 seconds of the second, but I took over from there and he didn't want to know.

Irvine added: "You've got to take it as it comes. It was a close fight, but I thought I'd done enough in the second and third rounds to win it.

"I just gave it 110 per cent in the ring. That's all the coaches ask of me, and I'm happy enough about that, and how I've come on.

achievement

"I'm proud of my achievement. I'm only 19 years of age, and it's my first senior competition for Ireland. So there's a lot of positives to take out of it.

"I'll go back into the ring and learn from it. I wanted the gold medal when I first came here, but I never thought I'd get this far."

There was some consolation for Irvine in that he has qualified for the World Championships and Olympic qualifiers, which will be held in Qatar in October.

He also picked up 500 ranking points, which will see him enter the AIBA World elite rankings in a top 12 position for the first time when the table is updated.

Meanwhile, Olympic champion Katie Taylor (8.45am), Sean McComb (9am) and Michael O'Reilly (10am) will be in action this morning.

baku 2015

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