Three gold for Ireland so far at Nicolae Linca Golden Belt multi-nations

Ireland have guaranteed themselves three gold medals at the Nicolae Linca Memorial in Iasi, Romania, with a possible fourth on the way tomorrow.

World and European Elite silver and bronze medallist Kelly Harrington and Christina Desmond struck double gold today versus world class opposition in Iasi.

The Dublin and Cork duo beat Russian opponents, with Harrington getting the better of current European lightweight champion Dariya Abramova and Desmond stopping Yakusina Yaraslav, who is ranked No. 7 in the World at middleweight, early in the third round.

Ireland will be taking home three gold and at least one silver from Romania, as Joe Ward, who has won two fights in Iasi, claimed gold after his Spanish opponent pulled out of their light heavyweight final tomorrow with an injury.

Kiril Afansev also impressed today, with the Dublin heavyweight recording a first round knockout of Romania’s Catilin Cristea to guarantee himself at least silver.

Irish head coach Zaur Antia, who is working Ireland’s corner with Jimmy Payne in Iasi, hailed the performances of the Irish trio.

Harrington admitted that Abramova was a tough opponent but said she stuck to the game plan handed to her by Antia and Payne and thought she won every round against an opponent who beat Finland’s Mira Potkonen, who beat Katie Taylor at the Rio Olympics, in the 2016 European final.

Carly McNaul, eliminated earlier in the week, took part in a test match today and put in a top class performance.

Afsenev will be in action versus Dence Istvan of Hungary in Saturday’s 91kg final. The Irish squad are due to arrive home via Dublin Airport at 2.30pm (Terminal 1) on Sunday.

Nicolae Linca Golden Belt Memorial Iasi, Romania (May 10th/14th)
May 10th
51kg Carly McNaul (Ireland) lost to Hanna Ohata (Ukraine) 2-3
60kg Kellie Harrington (Ireland) beat Kanna Okheri (Ukraine) 5-0
81kg Joe Ward (Ireland) beat Evgheni Zaritschi (Moldova) TKO1

May 11th
60kg Kellie Harrington (Ireland) beat Lacramiqara Perijoc (Romania) 3-2
75kg Christina Desmond (Ireland) beat Irina Stoic (Romania) TKO2
81kg Joe Ward (Ireland) beat Guiseppe Perugino (Italy) 5-0

May 12th
91kg Kiril Afansev (Ireland) beat Catilin Cristea (Romania) KO1

60kg Kellie Harrington (Ireland) beat Dariya Abramova (Russia) 3-2
75kg Christina Desmond (Ireland) beat Yakusina Yaraslav (Russia) TKO3

May 13th
81kg Joe Ward (Ireland) beat Fernandez Camacho (Spain) W/O
91kg Kiril Afansev (Ireland) v Dence Istvan (Hungary)

Irish Squad
52kg Carly McNaul (Ormeau Road)
60kg Kellie Harrington (St Marys) (Gold)
75kg Christina Desmond (Fr Horgans) (Gold)
81kg Joe Ward (Moate) (Gold)
91kg Kiril Afansev (Smithfield) (Silver, at least)
Team manager: Jennifer O’Sullivan (Sliabh Luchra)
Coaches: Zaur Antia & Jimmy Payne
R&J: Ben McGarrigle

Joe O'Neill

Reporting on Irish boxing the past five years. Work has appeared on, Boxing News,, and local and national media. Provide live ringside updates, occasional interviews, and special features on the future of Irish boxing. email: