Brendan Irvine is the first Irish boxer into the quarter finals at the European Games in Baku, Azerbaijan. The St. Paul’s ABC man won his Last 16 bout against Bulgaria’s Tinko Banabakov via unanimous decision. The judges scored the fight 30-26, 30-27, and 29-28 in favour of Belfast’s ‘Wee Rooster’ after what was an impressive victory.
At 19, Irvine is the youngest member of the Irish boxing squad and is looking to gain experience, and maybe even a medal, at the inaugural European games – his first major international tournament.
With this win against a game opponent, the 2015 National Elite champion has shown himself to be a capable deputy to triple Olympian, Paddy Barnes.
Irvine now faces Azeri home favourite, Salman Alizade, in the quarter finals with a bronze medal at stake. Alizade traded wins with Belfast’s Ryan Burnett in the finals of the 2010 World Youth Championships and 2010 Youth Olympics – with Alizade controversially winning in the World Championships before Burnett exacted revenge in the Olympics. In 2011 Alizade became the youngest person in 80 years to win the European Championships and he followed this up with a bronze in the 2013 edition – being beaten in the semi-finals by Paddy Barnes. Irvine will be hoping to become the third Irishman to inflict a defeat on Azerbaijan’s golden boy when the two meet on Monday morning (9:30 Irish time).