Tokyo Olympics bronze medalist Aiden Walsh has made a sensational exit from the IABA Elite Championships.
The Belfast fighter suffered a shock defeat by Wexford’s Dean Walsh in the light middleweight semi-finals at the National Stadium on Friday night.
In a controversial decision the current Commonwealth champion was defeated on a split 3-2 decision by his unrelated namesake who happens to be the nephew of US boxing coach Billy Walsh.
The judges favored the more aggressive style of the four-time Elite champion and a European bronze medalist in 2015. He certainly had the better of the exchanges in the first, but the Belfast fighter shadowed the next two as the Wexford challenger struggled to pin him.
But the judges thought otherwise as he scored one of the three fights with Dean Walsh leading the fight 29-26. The other two scored 29-28 while the other two beat Adrian Walsh 29-28.
In the 71kg final tomorrow night, Dean Walsh will take on Belfast fighter John McConnell, who recorded a 3-2 victory over Matthew McCole, who won all three rounds on two judges’ cards but lost the other three – 29-28.
The defeat deals a major blow to Aidan Walsh’s boxing ambitions at next summer’s European Olympic qualifiers in Poland. But it could eventually be a box-off between Aiden Walsh and the new champion.
There was also an upset in the first bout of the 19-fight programme, when veteran international Adam Hessian, a two-time elite champion, was beaten 4-1 by Offaly featherweight Paul Lunham.
The latter was a bronze medalist at the European U-22 Championships last year. He will take on Sean Purcell in tomorrow’s 57kg final, which is a designated Olympic weight. His opponent Jordan Smith retired with an injury at the end of the second round.
The non-Olympic lightweight final will feature Mullingar’s Jason Joyce – a 3-2 winner over Rhys Owens – and Davie Joyce, who beat Bayo Albi in the other semi-final.
European under-22 gold medalist Dean Clancy is in pole position to claim his first elite title in the Olympic light welterweight division.
Brandon McCarthy, the other finalist in the 63.5 kg class, was forced to retire after a clash of heads in the second round of his final round against Aaron O’Donoghue. The latter may consider it unlucky to lose the fight by virtue of going 0-4 in the first round. His corner looked annoyed by this decision.
McCarthy suffered a severe laceration over his left eye in the clash and will undergo a medical examination before being cleared to compete in tomorrow’s decider.
Clancy had to dig deep to decide on veteran John Paul Hale in a great bout. But the Sligo boxer landed clear and big punches and deservedly won. His brother Jason would compete in the light heavyweight final after receiving a walk-over in the semi-finals.
Eugene McKeever and Ryan McCarthy will meet in the welterweight final after securing 4-1 decider victories over Wayne Kelly and Cian Reddy respectively.
Men’s Elite Semifinals:
57kg: Paul Lunum (St Carthage) bt Adam Hessian (Monivia) 4-1; Sean Purcell (Saviors Crystal) bt Jordan Smith (Holy Family, Drogheda) Smith retired injured in R2.
60kg: Davy Joyce (Holy Family, Drogheda) bt Bio Alaby (Westside) 4-1 v Davy Joyce (Holy Family, Drogheda); Jason Nevin (Olympic, Mullingar) b Rhys Owens (Erne) 3-2.
63.5kg Brandon McCarthy (St Michael’s bt Aaron O’Donohue (Golden Gloves/Defense Forces) 4-0 (McCarthy retired in second round after clash of heads. Dean Clancy (Sean McDermott) bt John Paul Hale (STAR) 4 -1.
67kg: Wayne Kelly (Ballainacargie) bt Eugene McKeever (Holy Family, Drogheda) 4-1; Ryan McCarthy (Fr Horgans) bt Cian Reddy (Portlaise) 4-1.
71kg John McConnell (Holy Trinity) bt Matthew McCole (Ellies GG) 3-2; Dean Walsh (St Ibars/Joseph) beat Aidan Walsh (Emerald) 3-2