Laois middleweight Michael Nevin and Bray light-flyweight Regan Buckley guaranteed Ireland’s first medals of the second European Games on 4-1 split decisions in Minsk yesterday.
Buckley saw off Spain’s Marin Molina, and Nevin, in his third win in four days, earned a 30-27,30-27,29-28,29-28,28-29 verdict over Turkey’s Guler Serhat. Both men are now guaranteed at least bronze.
Buckley, the second Bray boxer to medal at the European Games after Katie Taylor won gold at Baku 2015, admitted that Molina was a handful early on.
“I’m over the moon,” said the 22-year-old who returned to the amateur ranks after two pro fights in 2017. “He was very compact and threw a lot of punches, so I had to deal with him from the outside. We did what we had to get the win.
Nevin, meantime, is not only trying to retain the 75kg gold his former club team-mate Michael O’Reilly, who was sent home from Rio 2016 after a doping offence, won at Baku 2015, he’s also trying to keep the 75kg title in the Portlaoise BC.
Meanwhile, Castlerea middleweight Aoife O’Rourke impressed yesterday after beating Belarus’ Viktoryia Kebikova, a World and European bronze medallist, on a 4-1 split to set up today’s quarter-final with Welsh southpaw and No 2 seed Lauren Price.
World Elite lightweight champion Kellie Harrington meets Italy’s European U/22 titlist Irma Testa for at least bronze at approximately 5pm (Irish time) today. Dublin-born Harrington has already recorded two decisions over Testa in Italy and Ireland. Bulgaria’s Denista Eliseeva and Finland Mira Potkonen, who have both beaten Katie Taylor in the past, are in the other half of the draw.
Antrim’s Kurt Walker, the No 4 seed in the bantam division, meets France’s Sam Kistohurry. Both men have crossed swords twice and share one victory each. Michaela Walsh and Grainne Walsh also box in the last eight today.
Irish boxing has now won six medals from the last two European Games. Harrington, both Walsh’s, Walker and O’Rourke will be aiming to push that into double-figures. Antrim light-welter James McGivern bowed out yesterday after dropping a unanimous decision to Armenia’s No. 1 seed Hovhannes Bachkov.