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Mixed fortunes for Ireland's boxers as the World Championships begin in Qatar

Irvine and O’Reilly march on in pursuit of medals.

19-year-old Irish light-flyweight Brendan Irvine.
19-year-old Irish light-flyweight Brendan Irvine.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

BRENDAN IRVINE AND Michael O’Reilly set the bar for Team Ireland at the World Championships in Doha on today, but Dean Walsh bowed out of the tournament after an opening-round split-decision loss.

Antrim light-flyweight Irvine looked like a seasoned fighter as the 19-year-old shook off his pre-fight nerves to record a 3-0 unanimous points win over American Nico Hernandez.

The teenager was on the money with a number of cracking right hands, catching Hernandez throughout as he booked a last-16 clash against Turkey’s Muhammet Unlu on Thursday.

“I’m just going to relax tonight, have a nice cool down,” said Irvine after the win. “I’ll keep focused on the boxing but I don’t want to think about it too much because it can fry your head!”

O’Reilly will also be in action on Thursday after a dominant win over Ukrainian Valerii Kharlamov. It looked like the Portlaoise middleweight had been handed the toughest draw of any Irish fighter at the Worlds, but he continually snapped Kharlamov with perfectly-timed uppercuts and a wide variety of punches from all angles in an impressive performance.

“It was a very tough fight, three tough rounds, he kept coming forward, there was no going back from him. He kept the pressure on me but I had to just hit him and move and that’s how I got the win,” said O’Reilly, who looks likely to be in the hunt for a medal and the Olympic spot that comes with it.

Walsh came out on the wrong side of a split-decision loss to Luis Dian Arcon of Venezuela, despite winning the opening round of their bout, but head coach and uncle Billy believes the 21-year-old will soon bounce back.

“He has an Irish Championships to get through and then there’s the [European] qualifiers for Rio and he still really has a good chance of qualifying,” said Walsh.

The action continues at the Ali Bin Hamad Al Attiya Arena tomorrow, with Belfast lightweight Seán McComb taking on Mexican Lindolfo Garca Delgado and Wexford welterweight Adam Nolan up against Eimantas Stanionis of Lithuania.

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Ciarán Gallagher

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