It was by no means a vintage performance by the Wee Rooster who struggled with the physical strength and timing of an admittedly very impressive Asian southpaw.
Zoirov, who had plundered silver at the last two Asian Championships as well as the 2014 Asian Games, started very strong, dominating the opening stanza and rocking the Belfast 20 year old’s head back numerous times and taking the round on all three cards – with one judge giving it 10-8 to the Uzbek.
A brighter start in the second from Irvine was soon extinguished by Zoirov who retook control and bloodied the nose of the St Paul’s fighter. Irvine finished strong but lost the round unanimously and found himself needing an unlikely knockout.
While Irvine was again improved in the third and was throwing punches until the final bell, he was still outlanded by Zoirov and lost the round, and the fight, on all three cards (26-30, 27-30 x2).
While the outcome will be upsetting for the youngster, Irvine – who is still growing into the weight – will be a stronger fighter as a result ahead of the 2020 Games in Tokyo, where he should be in his physical prime.