Michaela Walsh loses controversial split-decision in European semi final

Michaela Walsh is out of the European Championships following a controversial defeat this evening in Bulgaria.

The Belfast featherweight, Ireland’s last remaining fighter in Sofia, lost out to Russian Daria Abramova at the semi-final stage on a split-decision and must settle for a bronze medal

Dublin lightweight Kelly Harrington had been eliminated earlier in the day by Mira Potkonen – the Finn famous for knockoing Katie Taylor out of the Rio Olympic. This evening Walsh was faced by the woman who defeated Potkonen in the 2016 European final.

Following this win, Abramova stepped down to featherweight, her second move down in as many years, and represented a huge test for the Monkstown stylist – albeit one she seemed to pass with a smart boxing performance.

The longer Walsh used her reach in the opener, circling and popping off the jab in an intensely cagey round with few flashpoints bar one lunging shot from the Russian.

Abramova went on the offensive more in the second but was landing little initially. Indeed a long backhand right from Walsh after a minute was the bout’s most notable punch at that stage. The Russian was getting into range slightly more with cuffing blows, and this may well have won her favour with the judges, but again she took another classy straight right from Walsh who looked to be boxing according to plan.

The final round, with it all potentially on the line, was a scrappy affair with lots of clinching. Walsh employed some nice bodywork on the inside along with good single shots on her way out. Abramova looked to be the heavier hitter in the exchanges – although the biggest shot of the fight came when the Russian turned away and shipped a huge left hook from Walsh. The pair went toe-to-toe for a furious final fifteen seconds until the bell and the fight went to the cards where it was another split-decision.

Unfortunately, for Walsh, she was on the losing side of the split, a decision which she visibly disagreed with although she would still congratulate the victorious Abramova.

The result ends Ireland’s involvement in the tournament. Walsh and Harrington, by virtue of their top ten finishes, have qualified for the European Games in Minsk next year. Ireland’s other team member, welter Grainne Walsh, may join them depending on results today.

European Women’s Elite Championships Sofia, Bulgaria

Tuesday June 5th
Last 32
57kg Michaela Walsh (Ireland) beat Karriss Artingstal (England) 5-0

Wednesday June 6th
Last 16
57kg Michaela Walsh (Ireland) beat Alessia Mesiano (Italy) 5-0

Thursday June 7th
Last 16
60kg Kelly Harrington (Ireland) beat Katerina Humlova (Czech Republic) 5-0
69kg Grainne Walsh (Ireland) lost to Yaroslava Yakushina (Russia) 0-5

Friday June 8th
57kg Michaela Walsh (Ireland) beat Galina Bruyevich (Belarus) 3-2

Saturday June 9th
60kg Kelly Harrington (Ireland) beat Iulia Tsyplakova (Ukraine) 4-1

Monday June 11th
60kg Kelly Harrington (Ireland) lost to Mira Potkonen (Finland) 1-4
57kg Michaela Walsh (Ireland) lost to Daria Abramova (Russia) split

Irish squad
57kg Michaela Walsh (Monkstown)
60kg Kelly Harrington (St Mary’s)
69kg Grainne Walsh (Sparticus)

Team Manager: Bernard Dunne
Head Coach: Zaur Antia
Coach: Dmitry Dmitruk
Physio: Muireann Harte


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Joe O'Neill

Reporting on Irish boxing the past five years. Work has appeared on irish-boxing.com, Boxing News, the42.ie, and local and national media. Provide live ringside updates, occasional interviews, and special features on the future of Irish boxing. email: joneill6@tcd.ie