Aidan Walsh returned Team Ireland to winning ways and moved to within one win of an Olympic medal in Tokyo in the early hours of this morning.
The Monkstown BC boxer eased past Cameroonian Albert Mengue Ayissi to become an Olympic quarter-finalist in the 69kg class, much to the delight of his very vocal sister, Michaela Walsh, who was in the Kokugikan Arena after exiting the tournament to old rival Irma Testa the day previous.
The 24-year-old medal dark horse basically galloped into within touching distance of bronze at the very least, winning almost every round on every card, and taking two with a point to spare, as his frustrated opponent suffered point deductions.
The Belfast fighter produced a hit and move masterclass in the first, and is often the case in his fights was uncatchable once he took the lead and eventually secured a 5-0 unanimous decision victory.
His opponent was full of effort and industry trying to turn things around but was continually frustrated by the evasive Walsh, who will now fight for a medal in his next bout.
The victory was Ireland’s first since Kurt Walker’s victory on Saturday morning and ends a run of three defeats.
As expected it was bull versus matador from the off. Walsh used his feet to good effect against the aggressive African. He flicked up an effective jab, landed neat one twos and brought check hooks into play as the round wore on. The Monkstown boxer eventually taking the first 4-1.
The Belfast fighter took a massive step into the last eight in the second. Ayissi discovered just how frustrating the stylist is when ahead, his only success coming on the rare occasion the Irish fighter held his feet – and even at that the African was deducted a point for hitting on the back of the head. Continuing to follow the hit and move policy Walsh proved a score and exit master and made his foe look wild and wreckless for large parts of a round he won across the board.
Walsh held his feet on occasion early in the third but that only lent itself to another point deduction for the game Ayissi, who knew he needed a knockout to win. With the fight in the bag the dancing King was back on his toes with his hands down by his side happy to box his way over the finish line.
Up next is a massive clash for Kurt Walker, who takes on the top seed in the featherweight class, Mirazizbek Mitzakhalilov early on Wednesday morning. Middleweight Aoife O’Rourke is also in action on Wednesday, the Castlerea fighter takes on Li Qian.
Walsh will be back on Friday, facing Merven Clair from Mauritius for a medal.
57kg Kurt Walker (Ireland) beat Jose Quiles (Spain) 5-0
81kg Emmet Brennan (Ireland) lost to Dilshod Ruzmetov (Uzbekistan) 0-5
52kg Brendan Irvine (Ireland) lost to Carlo Paalam (Philippines) 1-4
57kg Michaela Walsh (Ireland) lost to Irma Testa (Italy) 0-5
69kg Aidan Walsh (Ireland) beat Albert Menque (Cameroon) 5-0
75kg Aoife O’Rourke (Ireland) v Li Qian (China)
57kg Kurt Walker (Ireland) v Mirazizbek Mitzakhalilov (Uzbekistan)
60kg Kellie Harrington (Ireland) v Rebecca Nicoli (Italy)