Brendan Irvine fell at the first Olympic hurdle after suffering heartbreaking defeat at the Kokugikan Stadium on Monday morning.
The Belfast flyweight, who lost to reigning champion Uzbekistani Shakhobidin Zoirov in his first fight in Rio 2016, suffered a similar fate in Tokyo after defeat to Carlo Paalam in the flyweight division.
The Philippine representative won by 4-1 split decision to set up what should be an entertaining final 16 clash with Olympic veteran and winner of seven major tournament medals Mohammed Flissi of Algeria.
The gutsy Irvine just failed to recover from a blistering Paalam start. He lost the first round across the board and just couldn’t conquer the mountain that was left to climb, although it wasn’t for the want of trying.
It will prove massively disappointing for the popular figure and the leader of the Irish team, who was hoping to put together some big performances. Like Emmet Brennan, who lost on Sunday, Irvine was handed a tough draw and anything but a gimme start but that will prove little solace for the talented competitor at this moment in time.
🥊RESULT🥊— IABA (@IABABOXING) July 26, 2021
A resilient display from @weerooster,showing all the heart & determination that defined his journey to the Games but unfortunately he loses out via SD (4-1) v 🇵🇭
A two-time Olympian, he can hold his head high
Proud of our captain!🇮🇪🥊#IABA #TeamIreland #Tokyo2020 pic.twitter.com/YIT8wFUKke
It was a case of wham-bam Paalam in the opening stanza.
The 23-year-old was all-action throughout the first letting leather loose with real intent. The Filipina was landing fast and ferocious combinations and didn’t allow the St Paul’s fighter to find any rhythm. As a result, he took the round across the board.
Paalam started the second like he did the first but anytime he took a breather or stepped off the quality of Irvine came to the fore. The ‘Wee Rooster’ doing enough in those patches to win the round on two judges’ scorecards.
The Team captain was up against it and fighting for his life going into the last. The 25-year-old certainly went for it in an exciting round. Irvine tried to match his opponent for work rate and landed some eye-catching shots. However, he needed to win the round big to progress and neither happened.
Featherweight fourth seed Michaela Walsh will also be in action this Monday morning fighting at 6:30am. The Belfast talent will face top Italian Irma Testa – who she has traded wins with this year – in her Last 16 clash.