Michael O’Reilly assured Ireland of at least a fourth bronze medal at the eighth European Union Elite Championships in Sofia, Bulgaria, this afternoon.
But Dean Wash and Dean Gardiner bowed out on an afternoon of mixed fortunes and split decisions for Ireland by the banks of the Iskar.
O’Reilly beat Georgia’s Gocha Badurashvili on a split decision after it went back to the judges after a draw. It was a deserved victory for the 2011 European Youth silver medallist as he dominated the latter part of the 75kg three-rounder.
O’Reilly, who received a public warning for a low blow in the second, worked well behind his left jab in the opening frame, and the bout began to turn in his favour near the end of the second after he found the target with two right uppercuts.
The left jab, right uppercut tactics also worked well in the third, a frame which O’Reilly dominated in terms of accuracy and punch volume.
Hungary’s Balazs Bacskai awaits in the last-four. Bacskai, who beat ex-Irish elite champion Willie McLaughlin in 2009 European Union final in Denmark – a defeat McLaughlin avenged a year later at the Ostrava Multi-Nations in the Czech Republic – won welterweight gold at the 2010 European Elite Championships at the Ice Palace in Moscow. Paddy Barnes and Darren O’Neill won gold and silver on the same day.
O’Reilly joins Hughie Myers, David Oliver Joyce and Darren O’Neill in the last-four. The quartet are guaranteed at least a bronze medal each.
Dean Walsh showed his class against Moldova’s Dmitri Galagot, who is ranked No 12 in the World by AIBA.
The Irish elite champion landed the majority of the cleaner punches throughout the three rounds and should now be looking forward to the semi-finals.
The Bulgarian judge certainly thought so, as he gave all three rounds to the Wexford man (30-27), but the other two judges leaned in favour (29-28 each) of the 2013 European Elite silver medallist.
Dean Gardiner was involved in a toe-to-toe super-heavyweight dust up with Italy’s Guido Vianella. Both boxers had their moments this afternoon, with the big Tipperary man landing three heavy shots going down the final stretch.
But unfortunately, for Ireland, two of the judges opted for Vianella (29-28,28-29,29-28).
Thursday is a rest day at the European Union Elite Championships. The semi-finals and finals will be held on Friday and Saturday.