Antrim bantam Kurt Walker has just confirmed his place at the World Championships and put himself one win away from a European bronze with a sensational display in Ukraine this afternoon.
Walker defeated Azeri number two seed Tayfur Aliyev on a split decision in the Last 16.
While Walker had previously fought and won in Kharkiv, Aliyev had received a bye to this fight – although came into the tournament off the back of a bronze medal at the recent Islamic Solidarity Games in his home country and had also won European Games bronze, which was also in Azerbaijan.
Aliyev started the quicker, scoring well with left hooks, but the circling Canal fighter would get stronger as the round went on, landing nice shots from range.
Walker would be on top in the second, and hurt the Black Sea fighter whose output dropped dramatically before an aggressive finish.
A cut sustained by Walker in his previous fight threatened to open, but had been kept largely at bay as the boxers entered the final round.
It was Walker who now took centre ring, and landed a succession of flush shots in the first minute. Aliyev then began to chase and the cut above the right brow of the counter-punching Walker opened up. Both boxers celebrated at bell, however the immediate feeling seemed to be that Walker was the better fighter overall.
A split decision was called and Walker, to his delight and Aliyev’s dismay, was confirmed as the winner.
The Ulsterman will now face Italian Raffaele Di Serio in the quarter finals tomorrow afternoon, with a bronze medal on the line. Walker was defeated by the same opponent on a 4-1 split back in March at the European U22 Championships, although he went to this tournament as a late replacement.
Also in Last 16 action for Ireland later today are Darren O’Neill, Emmet Brennan, and Joe Ward.
European Elite Men’s Championships Kharkiv, Ukraine June 14th/25th
64kg Sean McComb (Ireland) beat Erik Agateljan (Czech Republic) 5-0
56kg Kurt Walker (Ireland) beat SeverianeChildaze (Georgia) 5-0
69kg Steven Donnelly (Ireland) lost to Sergei Sobylinski (Russia) 0-5
60kg Pat Mongan (Ireland) lost to Artur Bril (Germany) 0-5
75kg Emmet Brennan (Ireland) beat Bartosz Golebiewski (Poland) 3-2
52kg Brendan Irvine (Ireland) beat Bathuhan Citfci (Turkey) 5-0
60kg Sean McComb (Ireland) beat Vitaly Dunaystev (Russia) 3-2
91kg+ Dean Gardiner (Ireland) lost to Viktor Vykhryst (Ukraine) TKO2
56kg Kurt Walker (Ireland) beat Tayfur Aliyev (Azerbaijan) Split
75kg Emmet Brennan (Ireland) v Kamran Shakhsuvarly (Azerbaijan)
81kg Joe Ward (Ireland) v Matus Strnisko (Slovakia)
91kg Darren O’Neill (Ireland) v Ramazazaqn Musilimov (Ukraine)
52kg Brendan Irvine (Ireland) v Gabriel Escobar (Spain)
64kg Sean McComb (Ireland) v Luke McCormack (England)
52kg – Flyweight – Brendan Irvine (St Pauls)
56kg – Bantamweight – Kurt Walker (Canal)
60kg – Lightweight – Patrick Mongan (Olympic)
64kg – Light-welter – Sean McComb (Holy Trinity)
69kg – Welterweight – Steven Donnelly (All Saints)
75kg – Middleweight – Emmett Brennan (Glasnevin)
81kg – Light-heavy – Joe Ward (Moate)
91kg – Heavyweight – Darren O’Neill (Paulstown)
91+kg – Super-heavy – Dean Gardiner (Clonmel)
High-Performance Director/Head of Delegation: Bernard Dunne
Head Coach: Zaur Antia
Coaches: Dmitry Dimitruc, Jimmy Payne, Eoin Pluck
Physio: Seamus Caffrey
Doctor: Jim Clover
Strength & Conditioning: John Cleary
Performance Analysis: Alan Swanton
Photo Credit: Ricardo Guglielminotti – The Fighting Irish (@ThefIrish)