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Kellie Harrington’s winnning streak halted in Belgrade

As Kellie Harrington stood in the centre of the Aleksandar Nikolić Hall’s ring, she bore the look of a woman who knew what was coming.

Sure enough, the announcer cleared his throat and announced the winner: ‘The boxer in the blue corner’.

The red-vested Harrington, the reigning Olympic and European lightweight champ, was beaten by Natalia Shadrina.

It was a first defeat in over three years for Harrington; a first defeat, in fact, since losing to Nune Asatryan in Sofia in February 2021. Defeat brings an end to a 32-bout winning streak for Harrington.

On home canvas, Serbian Shadrina advanced to the lightweight final after earning a split decision win over Harrington.

It was a case of third time lucky for Shadrina, who lost to Harrington in the finals of the 2023 European Games and the 2022 Strandja in Sofia.

Each time, Harrington claimed a unanimous decision win, but defeat here for the gold medal winner at the last Olympic Games in Tokyo gives cause to ponder given that the next Olympic installment in Paris is looming on the horizon.

Harrington will come back to Ireland with bronze, just as she did from Sofia in 2018, but relinquishing her golden nugget from Budva in ’22 will surely sting the 34-year-old.

Harrington got the nods of the Bulgarian, Belgian and Israeli judges after the opening round of cat and mouse.

By the end of the second, the scores were level on two cards with Shadrina ahead on two cards and just one, the Bulgarian, having Harrington ahead.

As she rose from the stool for the third verse, Harrington will have been aware that her odds had lengthened.

Shadrina prevented Harrington from asserting control on the bout.
Harrington advanced from a quarter-final with Ozer Gizem after a bout review that was triggered by a 3-2 split decision. The review landed 4-3 in favour of Harrington, confirming a place on the podium.

Yet, there was to be no upgrade of colour or prize money for Harrington, who exits at the penultimate hurdle having pocketed bronze and a monetary prize of $5,000.

Shadrina spoiled Harrington’s endeavours in the third round, pushing back with a sharp left hand of her own.

In the last minute, Harrington managed to respond, but Shadrina is on her way to the final.