Team Ireland had two strong boxers, Kellie Harrington and Aidan Walsh, in action early this morning from the Kokugikan Arena in Tokyo
Women’s Lightweight (57-60kg) – Round of 16
Kellie Harrington (Ireland) v Rebecca Nicoli (Italy)
Harrington has had to wait a week but has finally done her first bout at Tokyo 2020 and looked as calm and collected as ever.
Ireland’s flag bearer was to face Italy’s 21-year-old boxer Nicoli in her first fight. The Irish fighter had a slight height and reach advantage over the Italian but also comes in as one of the favourites to claim a medal at these Games.
The first round went as expected, Harrington played her game by keeping her distance from her opponent, making strong combos and ducking out before the Italian could strike.
Harrington dominated the round and it was reflected in the judges scores with her unanimously winning.
The Irish woman slowed from her usual high tempo in the second round as Nicoli became more attacking. Instead, Harrington changed to using quick punches while keeping her head moving.
She adapted perfectly to the situation and won all the judges votes again in that round all but guaranteeing her place in the quarterfinals.
Round three and Harrington continued to show her class. She never seemed tired, barely breaking a sweat as she landed punch after punch on her opponent.
In one of the most dominant displays of any boxer so far at the Olympics, Harrington took a clean sweep of all the judges scores, winning the bout over Nicoli 5-0.
The Irish boxer will now face Algeria’s Imane Khelif in the quarterfinals, one fight away from guaranteeing at least a bronze medal for herself.
The quarterfinal bout will take place at 04:35 on Tuesday, 3rd August.
💪 Kellie Harrington won her lightweight last-16 fight against Italy's Rebecca Nicoli by unanimous decision.
— Balls.ie (@ballsdotie) July 30, 2021
Men’s Welterweight (63-69kg) – Quarterfinal
Aidan Walsh (Ireland) v Merven Clair (Mauritius)
Aidan Walsh qualified for the quarterfinal by easily beating Cameroon’s Mengue Ayissi three days ago. His opponent Clair beat Canada’s Sanford and Jordan’s Eashash already in the tournament.
This would be a big step up from his last bout but Walsh seemed confident that he could get himself into a medal position.
The fight started cagey with both boxers not wanted to leave themselves open and choosing to make fast swings from distances. Walsh, always on his toes, seemed to be the much faster athlete, continuously ducking and dodging while leaving hits on the Mauritius man.
The Irish boxer ended the round with a unanimous vote in his favour.
The second round continued in the same vein but Walsh did not slow down. Clair knew he needed to step up or this would be the end of his Olympics but the Irish man kept eluding him.
The second round had Walsh winning 30-28 on three of the judges scores meaning except for something special, he would be going through.
The third round was one for only the diehard fans as Walsh wanted to run down the clock with little incident. He received two warnings from the referee for inactivity but that would not faze him, leaving Clair with little to do.
The final bell rang out and Walsh’s hand was raised, winning 4-1 on a split decision. This means that Ireland now have their first medallist in the boxing.
We will have to wait until he faces Team GB’s Pat McCormack to see if it will be a bronze medal or the chance of silver or gold.
That fight will take place at 04:03 on Sunday, 1st August.
Ireland’s other boxer Kurt Walker will also fight against USA’s Duke Ragan on Sunday at 03:30.
ANOTHER MEDAL FOR IRELAND!! Boxer, Aidan Walsh, is guaranteed at least a bronze after a comprehensive 4-1 victory over Merven Clair of Mauritius! 🇮🇪 👏 @Tokyo2020 #Olympics pic.twitter.com/wYe9yp38VT
— Des Cahill (@sportsdes) July 30, 2021