Micheala Walsh has become only the second Irish woman to win two European Championships medals, the first being Katie Taylor.
The fighter that won bronze in Sofia in 2018 has repeated the feat in Budva in 2022, although she will be hoping to upgrade over the next couple of days.
The record-breaking three-time Commonwealth Games medal winner achieved the honour by defeating Romania’s Claudia Nechita in Montenegro this afternoon.
The Olympian, who may be joined by Amy Broadhurst and Kellie Harrington as a two-time European Championships medal winner in the very near future, was a class above her game opponent and progressed via a 4-1 split decision.
The wins means Walsh, whose brother Aidan is an Olympic gold medal winner, can now boast to having four continental medals, two European Championships trinkets, one from the European Games and one from the EU Championships. Add that to three Commonwealth Games medals and she has proven herself a serial success and one of the great Irish fighters.
The physically imposing Nechita came out firing, rushing forward and letting straight shots go in bundles, not that Walsh minded.
Indeed, the decorated Belfast talent is more comfortable against an aggressive style as it allows her to use her quality footwork and counter-punching skills.
Walsh punished her foe’s aggression throughout, fighting up on her toes with her hands down and landing the majority of the clean shots. The effort and industry of the Romanian did impress two of the judges and the round was scored 3-2 in the Irish fighter’s favour.
Nechita was a little more cautious in the first half of the second round, allowing Walsh to hold her feet more, which in turn led to a more aggressive approach. She went to the body more and was in and out with eye-catching combinations. Frustrated the Romanian returned to type but when she marched forward she was walked onto shots by the Olympian.
Just like her brother, Olympic medal winner, Aidan Walsh, the featherweight is one of the best in the world getting over the finish line once a lead is established.
However, rather than just steer clear of trouble and dance her way onto the podium, 57kg medal winner Walsh fought in the final session. She checked hooked her way out of danger when needed but was enjoying landing some big backhands and held her feet on occasion.
Flyweight Carly McNaul didn’t enjoy the same success two fights earlier losing to Italy’s Olena Savchuk in her quarter final.
McNaul stalked well from the off and set a pace that she might benefit from later in the fight. She pressed Savchuk and let her shots go when she got inside, but the Italian proved up for the fight and was determined to ensure she wasn’t going to be bullied. She let fly with straight shots and did enough to win the round across the board.
The pace finally seemed to get to the Italian midway through the second round and the Commonwealth Games medalist began to get on top. She just kept coming and was landing big overhand rights as she appeared to battle her way into medal contention.
However, three of the five judges favoured the work of her opponent, meaning McNaul needed a huge last round to win the fight.
As ever McNaul gave it all she had and threw the kitchen sink at the polished Italian, she did ensure she won the bout on two cards but ultimately lost 3-2.
Shannon Sweeney already banked a medal earlier in the day defeating Nicole Durikova.
Three more Irish boxers will fight for medals today. Reigning Commonwealth Champion Micheala Walsh fights for her second European Championships medal in a 57kg quarter against Romania’s Claudia Nechita.
World champion and Ireland’s 63kg representative Amy Broadhurst boxes Serbia’s Milena Matovic for a place on the podium, that fight is bout 3 of the evening session. Seven fights later and Christina Desmond fights against Sweden’s Hanna Ingrid Malena Hede for a medal.
Aoife O’Rourke, Kellie Harrington, Kaci Rock, and Caitlin Fryers also have quarter-finals to contest but will trade leather on Wednesday rather than today.
Team Ireland Squad
48kg: Shannon Sweeney, St. Anne’s, Mayo
50kg: Caitlin Fryers, Immaculata BC, Belfast
52kg: Carly McNaul, Ormeau Road BC, Belfast
54kg: Niamh Fay, Phoenix of Ballyboughal BC, Dublin
57kg: Michaela Walsh, Emerald BC, Belfast
60kg: Kellie Harrington, St. Mary’s BC, Dublin
63kg: Amy Broadhurst, St. Bronagh’s ABC, Newry
66kg: Kaci Rock, Enniskerry BC, Wicklow
70kg: Christina Desmond, Dungarvan BC/Garda BC
75kg: Aoife O’Rourke, Olympic BC, Galway