One seems to follow the other whenever Ireland’s elite squad attends a major championships and finals day at the European Championships in Ankara yesterday followed the same script.
Ray Moylette, the 2008 AIBA World Youth lightweight champion, and Joe Ward, the 2010 AIBA World Youth middleweight champ, sealed victories in the light-welterweight and light-heavyweight categories.
Moylette, who boxes out of the St Anne’s BC in Westport, romped home to a convincing 18-10 decision over England’s Thomas Stalker.
“It’s always nice to beat an Englishman, especially in a final,” said the 21-year-old.
“It will take me a while to get my head around the fact that I’m the best in Europe in my weight — I’m still trying to get my head around the fact that I won a world youth title three years ago to tell the truth.”
Moylette shared the first round 5-5 with the busy Liverpudlian, a silver medallist at the 2010 European Championships. Working comfortably behind his trademark high guard, Moylette fired home some quality body shots and left and right hooks in the second to command a 12-8 advantage at the bell and he then picked off the Englishman at will in the third.
“I am thrilled with the win. We did the video analysis on him and we knew he was going to throw long shots. I was comfortable in there and I think I produced my best performance in the final,” Moylette added.
“I had five fights to win gold and it was tough, but we’re conditioned for tournaments like this and I didn’t fell tired, although it was tough making the weight every morning, that was probably the toughest part.
“Now I’m going home with a European gold — we’ll have a bit of a celebration when I get home tomorrow.”
Ward, at 17, the minimum age requirement for senior boxing, became one of the youngest champions in the 87-year history of the blue riband tournament of European boxing at the expense of Russian brawler Nikita Ivanov.
Ward is added to an illustrious cast of Irish boxers which includes Dubliner Jimmy Ingle, who was 17 when he claimed gold at the 1939 European Championships at the National Stadium in Dublin.
“Over the moon,” Ward said. “It’s fantastic to win it out. I thought I was brilliant in there. He tried to bully me a bit but I picked off the cleaner shots, covered up and picked him off.
“I sparred him in Russia a while back and I knew I had the measure of him.
“I’m the European champion now and that’s brilliant. This is another step on the ladder for me. The next step is getting to the Olympic Games, that’s my next goal. I’m delighted with my win, delighted to win another gold. If I keep winning gold then I must be doing something right.”
The Moate BC Westmeath clubman claimed the first round 7-3 and was 15-6 up at the end of the second, a frame in which Ivanov, who had winged in a low blow earlier, ceded two points after receiving a public warning for a second low blow.
The Russian continued to try and bully his way to gold in the third but Ward’s greater boxing skills and accurate counter-punching impressed the judges.
Yesterday’s victories arrive one year after Paddy Barnes claimed European light-flyweight gold at the European Championships in Moscow to bridge a 19-year gap since Paul Griffin won our last (male) gold at European level in 1991.
Barnes was unable to compete in Turkey because of a hand injury, while Katie Taylor, the current European champion, will be aiming for her fifth European title in a row later this year in Holland.
The Irish squad are due to arrive home via Dublin Airport at 10.20am today. The World Championships and Olympic qualifiers will take place in Baku, Azerbaijan in September/October.
52Kg: Flyweight: M Conlon (St John Bosco, Belfast); bt K Yafai (Engl) 19-10; lost to Vi Picardi (It) 20-26.
56Kg (Bantamweight): J J Nevin (Cavan BC) bt P Ischenko (Ukr) 19-13, bt N Izoria (Geor) 15-10, lost to D Polyanskiy (Rus) 12-13.
60Kg (Lightweight) M McDonagh (St Mary’s, Dublin) lost to V Matvichuk (Ukr) 6-16.
64Kg (Light-welterweight): R Moylette (St Anne’s, Westport) bt S Amara (Isr) RSC2, bt L Marjanvic (Serb) 17-16, bt M Ignatiev (Rus) 14-13, bt H Heybatulla (Azer) 18-16m bt T Stalker (Eng) 18-10. Moylette wins gold
69Kg (Welterweight): W McLaugghlin (Illies GG Donegal) bt S Banyo (Holland) 12-8, bt B Katalinic (Croatia) 20-14, lost to Z Kvachatadze (Geor) 21-28.
75Kg (Middleweight): D O’Neill (Paulstown, Kilkenny) bt D Radovan (Ger) 16-9, bt V Cotiujanschi (Mold) 24-12, lost to D Mytrofanov (Ukr) 10-17.
81Kg (Light-heavyweight) J Ward (Moate BC Westmeath) bt A Karlson (Est) 10-7, bt F Simeno (Ita) 15-13, bt I Szello (Hun) 18-8, bt N Ivanov (Rus) 20-12. Ward wins gold
91Kg (Heavyweight): C Sheehan (Clonmel) bt L Guledani (Geor) RSCI2, lost to A Nurmagomedov (Rus) 19-22.
91+Kg (Super-heavyweight): C McMonagle (Holy Trinity Belfast) bt M M (Bos and Herz) 15-15 c/b 75/74, lost to A Joshua (Eng) 18-22.