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European champ: Super Shannon Sweeney sizzles to GOLD

Shannon Sweeney joined that great pantheon of Irish boxers to win European gold when climbing to the top of the podium in Serbia.

The St Anne’s southpaw overcame Zlatislava Gena Chukanova to be crowned the European light-flyweight champ.

Sweeney secured Ireland’s 21st gold medal at the European Championships after taking a 4-1 split decision in Serbia.

A $15,000 pay cheque will also be winging its way to Westport.

Sweeney was a bronze medal winner at these Championships in 2022, when she lost to Sevda Asenova, but is now at the top of the charts.

The eager Bulgarian sprung from the blue corner in an attempt to set an early tone and it was Chukanova who was marginally ahead at the close of the opening round.

Sweeney was on the canvas, albeit via a slip, in the second round but the Irish woman was beginning to gain the upper hand.

It was often scrappy and the pair spent as much time locked in arms as at arm’s length, but Sweeney was now in front – but only just.

The Polish judge had Sweeney 20-18 in front when she headed for the stool at the end of the second. The other four had the bout finely poised at 19-19: All to play for in the third.

Chukanova began the third with a flurry, but Sweeney – who had clearly done her homework diligently since beating Anush Grigoryan on Thursday – stuck to her game plan perfectly.

A superb check right hook rattled Chukanova’s head guard and slammed Sweeney into command.

Sweeney landed a similar dart later in the bout and when the sums were totted four judges had her 29-28 ahead.

The Irish contingent raised the roof from the Aleksandar Nikolić Hall when the result was confirmed.

Sweeney opened with a fine win over Galiusa Galieve from Russia before disposing of the gold medal favourite, Laura Fuertes Fernandez, in what was a career-best performance to secured a spot on the podium.

The colour was upgraded to gold and the cheque rewritten to the top amount as Sweeney etches her name alongside the likes of Katie Taylor, Kellie Harrington, Paddy Barnes, Joe Ward and Jason Quigley to win European gold.