Silver lining- Brave Irvine has to settle for Euro Championship silver

Belfast’s Brendan Irvine was today narrowly defeated in the final of the light flyweight division at the inaugural European Games.

The 19 year old St Paul’s ABC fighter lost out to Russian boxer, Bator Sagaluev, in the 46-49kg final at the multi-sport games in Baku, Azerbaijan. Despite the loss, it was yet another admirable performance by the youngest member of the Irish boxing team having previously defeated home favourite Salman Alizada and the Ukraine’s Dmytro Zamotayev.

Like his previous two fights, Irvine lost the first round of the contest. The bout began tentatively with Sagaluev, a crafty counter-puncher five years Irvine’s senior, just edging the exchanges once the fight opened up.

The second round saw the Irvine we had all grown to love in these championships, a relentless attacking force. The Russian began the round well before ‘Wee Rooster’ took control, imposing his will and scoring well with the lead straight right. Sagaluev did score the occasional counter but Irvine seemed to come out on top – the judges however disagreed and were split with two going for the Russian and one opting for the Belfast youngster. Irvine came out flying in the final round and dominated from start to finish.

The light flyweight’s fitness had been a notable asset in these Games and it came into play again today with Sagaluev holding on and looking to clinch while Irvine was energetic and fresh until the bell. The judges unanimously scored the final stanza for Irvine but it was not enough after a slow first round and questionable scoring in the second. Final judges’sscores were 29-28 x2 for Sagaluev and 29-28 for Irvine who has to settle for silver.

Irvine however has done himself proud in Baku as well as announcing himself as a world class boxer. Next up is the European Championships in Bulgaria in August before he heads to the World Championships in Qatar in October. ‘Wee Rooster’ will want to add to his silver and, judging by his efforts in Azerbaijan, there will be many, many more medals to come. Big at the weight and still growing, Irvine could perhaps even move up to 52kg and target a place at the Rio 2016 Olympics.

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: [email protected]