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closing in Aidan Walsh one win away from Olympic medal after dominant opening win in Tokyo

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Aidan Walsh of Ireland with coaches Dmitry Dmitruk, left, and Zaur Antia, right, after defeating Mengue Ayissi of Cameroon in the Men's Welterweight Round of 16 at the Kokugikan Arena during the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympic Games. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Aidan Walsh of Ireland with coaches Dmitry Dmitruk, left, and Zaur Antia, right, after defeating Mengue Ayissi of Cameroon in the Men's Welterweight Round of 16 at the Kokugikan Arena during the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympic Games. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Aidan Walsh of Ireland with coaches Dmitry Dmitruk, left, and Zaur Antia, right, after defeating Mengue Ayissi of Cameroon in the Men's Welterweight Round of 16 at the Kokugikan Arena during the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympic Games. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

BELFAST welterweight Aidan Walsh is within touching distance of an Olympic medal after breezing into the quarter-finals of the tournament in Tokyo with a unanimous points win over Albert Mengue from Cameroon.

On his Olympic debut, the 23-year old produced a masterclass of a tactical performance which completely frustrated his opponent who was docked points in the first and last rounds for illegal punches by the referee.

But even without his intervention Walsh, a younger brother of Michaela who exited the tournament yesterday, would still have comfortably won the contest.

At Olympic level the luck of the draw can have a huge influence. Walsh was the only Irish boxer to get the rub of the green. Even though he wasn’t a seeded fighter he got a bye into the last sixteen and now he looks set to take full advantage of it.

Cheered on by Michaela and his other Irish team mates, Walsh won the first round on all but one of the five judges’ scorecards – but when the deducted point was taken into account Walsh was already in control.

The second round followed a similar pattern. The Cameroon fighter poured forward at every opportunity but Walsh proved an elusive target and repeatedly caught him on the counter.

Once he avoided a knock-out in the final round Walsh knew he was in the last eight. The Cameroon fighter did enjoy a bit more success in the closing stanza as he tried to land the big punches he needed but he undid all his good work by losing a point for ignoring the referee’s warning about hitting on the back of Walsh’s head.

Once the scorecards were counted, Walsh was awarded the fight 30-25, 30-25, 29-26, 28-27 and 30-25.

And just for good measure, the number four seeded boxer, Zeyad Ishaish from Jordan was beaten on a split decision by Merven Clair from Mauritius, who now stands between Walsh and an Olympic bronze medal. The quarter-final takes Friday.

“It is always good to win. You always come here to win,” Walsh said afterwards.

“When you get a win it is incredible, But it is now on the next one. I think he was deducted a point in the first round for hitting on the back of the head. But I was taking each moment as it comes and listening to the instructions.

“It was one of those fights no matter whether you are up or down you cannot rest on your laurels. You just have to stay focussed and always stay composed.”

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