SEVEN GB boxers have secured a magnificent seven medals at the European Games, while a quality Irish team have also made sure of six medals by reaching the semi-finals of the tournament at the Sport Palace Uruchie in Minsk, Belarus.
English heavyweight Cheavon Clarke guaranteed the first medal for the GB boxing team at these European Games when he unanimously outscored Holland’s Peter Mullenberg in Tuesday’s quarter-final.
But Clarke says, “Gold is the standard. Nothing else is satisfactory.”
On the same day (June 25), in preliminary bouts, Clarke’s lightweight team mate Calum French outpointed Italy’s Francesco Maietta on a split decision. At 64kgs Luke McCormack outscored Hungary’s Milan Fodor on a split decision. GB 81kgs Ben Whittaker beat Austria’s Umar Dzambekov on a unanimous decision. Scotland’s Aqeel Ahmed was edged out by Georgia’s Sakhil Alakhverdovi at 49kgs on a split decision.
Irish middleweights Aoife O’Rourke and Michael Nevin were victorious, the former beating Belarus’ Viktoryia Kebikava, the latter in a quarter-final defeated Turkey’s Serhat Guler, both by split decision. Ireland’s James McGivern lost a unanimous decision to Armenia’s strong 64kgs Hovhannes Bachkov. But Irish light-flyweight Regan Daly was victorious, beating Spain’s Martin Molina Salvador on a split decision in their quarter-final.
Wednesday (June 26) saw the rest of the quarter-finals. Ireland’s Michaela Walsh secured a medal when she beat Germany’s Ornella Wahner on a split decision. Welterweight Grainne Walsh also made sure of a medal when she defeated Finland’s Elina Gustafsson on a unanimous decision.
Ireland’s Kurt Walker secured a good win when he unanimously beat France’s Samuel Kistohurry. “It’s probably the first ever time I’ve fought in that style,” Walker said. “He was too fit to keep off and he would have caught me on the back foot so I had to fight his style which I’ve never really done, so I’m just glad I tried it and won myself a medal.
“That’s two tough fights now, but I’m happy, I’m improving every time. Our team is flying at the moment so it’s brilliant.”
World champion Kellie Harrington came through a quarter-final with a split decision over Italy’s tricky Irma Testa at 60kgs.
Welsh middleweight Lauren Price will win another European medal after she beat Ireland’s Aoife O’Rourke unanimously. “It’s nice to get the first one out of the way, everyone’s had to box on the team and I was the last one so it’s nice to get in there, the first one’s always the hardest,” Price said. “Obviously, I’m guaranteed a medal now, so I’ll push on to Friday in the semi-final. I felt good, fitness was fine. I’ll go back now, speak to the team, go through the video and work on things for Friday.”
Continuing his good showing at flyweight Britain’s Galal Yafai unanimously outscored Ukraine’s Dmytro Zamotayev. GB 56kgs Peter McGrail also reached the final four, beating Albania’s Krenar Zeneli on a unanimous decision. Another British star, welterweight Pat McCormack is guaranteed a medal. He eliminated Monaco’s Hugo Micallef by unanimous decision too.
“I want to be the best and to do that you’ve got to beat the best. I’m feeling good, I’ve got the bronze secured but I’m only going to be happy with gold. I got silver at the last Europeans, I’ve done that twice, so I just want the gold,” Pat said.
His twin brother Luke McCormack will join him in the semi-finals after a split points win over Ukraine’s Yaroslav Khartsyz. Nor will Ben Whittaker be denied a medal after his split decision victory over Germany’s Abdulrahman Abu Lubdeh.
A split decision went against Birtley’s Calum French when he boxed Armenia’s Karen Tonakanyan.
The semi-finals take place on Friday (June 28), with the finals from Saturday to Sunday (June 29-30).