Michaela Walsh just failed to pass a tough Italian Testa in Tokyo this morning and exited the Olympic Games as a result.
The European Games, Championships and Union medal winner lost to old foe Imra Testa of Italy in the last 16 of the featherweight competition.
Walsh and Testa, who reached the last 16 by defeating Liudmilla Vorontsova, a 2019 Worlds acquaintance of the Belfast fighter, had shared the ring twice this year – The Italian defeating the Monkstown fighter in the Olympic Qualifying final in Paris in June and Walsh winning an April training camp fight.
Testa was the victor again on Monday, winning a tight and technical rubber match to bounce into the quarter-finals and move to within one win of a medal.
Walsh won the first round against the rangy two-time Olympian, only for the Italian to move into progression pole in the second. It went to the wire as a result – and Testa managed to take the last to win via unanimous decision.
Walsh, who thanks to being one of Ireland’s most consistent sports stars in recent years went into the Games as a genuine medal hope, spoke brilliantly after the defeat, immediately switching her focus to supporting her brother Aidan and the rest of the team as well as revealing she now wanted Testa to win gold.
It’s Ireland’s third defeat on the trot after Emmet Brennan and Brendan Irvine lost their respective openers. Tough draws are the common denominators in all three results.
Testa’s long left jab looked a lethal weapon early in the first but once Walsh began to time she began to land clean. The smaller of the two technically proficient fighters was countering well and had success with combinations particularly late in the round. After the first three minutes, she had a 3-2 lead.
Taking a lead into the second seemed to suit the decorated 28-year-old. Walsh could use her footwork and skill set to good effect. It looked like she was making a frustrated-looking Testa miss and fall short but the judges were impressed by the Italian pressing the fight and she turned things around to set up a winner takes all third.
It was Walsh’s jab that was effective at the start of the third. The standout Irish performer impressed over the first minute and looked to be putting one foot in the quarter-finals as she set the pace.
However, the Italian started to find a home for the traditional one-two and operated well off the back foot for the remainder of the round. Walsh did attempt to close the distance and went to the body when up close but her opponent got the nod in terms of the round and the fight – and progresses to the last eight as a result.
Up next for Ireland is the Monkstown boxer’s little brother Aidan Walsh. The Commonwealth Games medal winner makes his Olympic debut at 3:30am [Irish Time] on Tuesday morning.