Kurt Walker claims Ireland’s 50th medal at the European boxing championships

Kurt Walker
Kurt Walker

Bantamweight Kurt Walker has claimed Ireland’s 50th medal at the European boxing championships, but light welterweight Sean McComb suffering an agonising loss in his bronze medal fight in Kharkiv, Ukraine.

Walker reached the semi-finals and guaranteed himself a bronze medal by defeating Italian Raffaele De Serio on a split decision.

The pair clashed in the European U-22 championships earlier this year when the Italian won 4-1. Walker had been a late addition to the Irish team for the event.

On this occasion, however, it was Walker who looked the better fighter and the Italian looked under serious pressure particularly in the final round. It was no surprise when the Lisburn fighter got the verdict.

He will now face European silver and World bronze medallist and home favourite, Mykola Butsenko in the semi-final.

But there was bitter disappointment for McComb who lost to England’s Luke McCormack on a controversial 3-2 split decision.

The two judges who opted for the Belfast light welterweight gave him all three rounds but the other three judges gave the nod to McCormack 29-28.

So even though McComb secured more points McCormack was advanced to the last four.

McCormack probably benefitted from the fact that he looked the more aggressive fighter and succeeded in landing some big shots but McComb appeared to score more frequently with his jabs to both the head and body.

The only consolation for McComb is that he is assured of a place at the World championships later this year which may be enough to persuade Sports Ireland to restore his funding.

Rio Olympian Brendan Irvine has secured Ireland’s second medal at the European boxing championships in Kharkiv, Ukraine.

The Belfast flyweight beat Spanish southpaw Gabriel Escobar in the quarter finals on a unanimous 5-0 points decision to guarantee himself a bronze medal.

Even though the Spaniard began the fight in an aggressive manner Irvine took control and managed to keep his opponent at a distance and score with long range jabs.

Irvine, a medallist at the European Games in Baku in 2015, will now meet teenager English flyweight Niall Farrell who caused a major upset in his quarter final bout when he  highly rated Italian Manuel Cappai.

Meanwhile, Sport Ireland sources have confirmed that light welterweight Sean McComb – who suffered a narrow 3-2 loss in his quarter-final bout – will be eligible for governing funding as a result of having qualified for the World championships in Hamburg later this year.

He could be awarded up to 12,000 euro a year and this figure would rise significantly if they made the last eight at the World event.