Lisa O’Rourke leapt up and down with delight as she won Ireland’s second gold medal inside half an hour to claim the light-middleweight title at the Women’s World Boxing Championships in Istanbul and with it a $100,000 first prize.
Entering the ring straight after Amy Broadhurst had won the light-welterweight gold medal, O’Rourke claimed a 4-1 split decision to beat Alcinda Panguane, of Mozambique.
While Broadhurst’s win had been overwhelming, O’Rourke was never able to fully subdue Panguane and needed a good final round to confirm victory.
O’Rourke stayed on the move early on, while Panguane came after her, but despite getting an early warning for a slap, O’Rourke had success with her left jab and then attempted a straight right when Panguane got close.
There was little peace for O’Rourke, though, as Panguane kept the pressure on her and the judges were split 3-2 in the Irish boxer’s favour after the first round.
Things got more comfortable for O’Rourke in the second round, as Panguane’s feet started to slow and O’Rourke was able to get more space between the pair, picking Panguane off as she moved backwards. O’Rourke looked a bit wild at times, but she was gaining in confidence and by the end of the second round seemed happy to stand and trade with the African boxer, who competed at last year’s Olympics in Tokyo.
The judges were once again split 3-2 in O’Rourke’s favour, which gave her a big lead, although Panguane could still get the verdict by taking the final round.
O’Rourke started the final round fast, winging in punches from distance and then landing the cleaner shots as things got wild in close. O’Rourke went on the move in the final round, although Panguane landed a big straight left just before the final bell.
It was a historic day for Irish boxing. Only Katie Taylor (five times) and Kellie Harrington had previously claimed gold at the World Championships.
Harrington missed the championships after suffering an injury at the pre-Championships training camp, while O’Rourke’s sister, Aoife, who qualified for the Tokyo Olympics last year and was seen as a medal hope, lost her opening bout in Istanbul on a split decision. It leaves Ireland with strength in depth as attention turns to the Paris Olympics just two years away.