Light-heavyweight Joe Ward and bantamweight Michael Conlan have won gold medals at the Elite European Boxing Championships in Bulgaria.
The Belfast fighter eased to victory over Britain's Qais Ashfaq, winning all three rounds and adding another championship medal to his collection, to go with his Olympic bronze from the London Games.
And it was a boxing masterclass from the Clonard ABC man, who was also named Boxer of the Tournament, as Conlan won every round of the fight, culminating in a devastating final round to finish the contest and secure the gold medal.
By Conlan’s standards it was a tentative opening round as the Belfast man maintained a higher guard than usual, boxing orthodox and showing respect for the counter-attacking Englishman in this elite-level final.
Yet there was no doubt who was impressing the judges more, the Irishman landing the scoring punches, with several strong right hands connecting to both the head and the body.
In fact, Conlan was producing a fine display of counter-punching a counter-puncher and showed the much cleaner work, taking the round 10:9 on all three judges’ scorecards.
Ashfaq was forced to go on the offensive in the second round and enjoyed a modicum of success, landing a couple of scoring shots on Conlan, who had now reverted to his more languid style, as a result of the confidence-building opening round.
The Briton’s aggression impressed one of the three judges, who scored the round 10:9 to Ashfaq, but again Conlan did enough to take the round as he won it 29:28 overall.
Conlan’s class really shone through in the final round as an air of desperation arrived from Ashfaq. The Leeds fighter was unable to cope with the ever-moving Belfast man, who had now changed to southpaw style.
And Conlan showed his whole repertoire of shots for the duration of the final round, catching the advancing Ashfaq at will en route to securing the round and the gold medal.
Ward replicated Conlan’s gold medal-winning performance as he eased to victory over Netherland's Peter Mullenberg to take the light-heavyweight title.
The now two-time European champion looked in total control from the opening bell as he looked a class above his eager, yet limited, opponent.
Ward stamped his authority on the fight in the opening round, which left the Dutchman in serious trouble trying to counter the impressive combinations coming from the Irishman, with the left uppercut particularly causing trouble for Mullenberg’s high hands.
To his credit, Mullenberg upped his aggression and work-rate in the second round, gaining favour from one of the three judges, but Ward never looked worried as he blocked almost all of the flurry of punches that were being thrown by the Dutch solider.
As the fight approached the closing stages of the final round and with the gold medal virtually secured, Ward was happy to stand toe-to-toe with Mullenberg, and both boxers landed some big shots, but the result was never in doubt, as was evident from the smile on the Moate man’s face as the bell tolled for the final time.
Ward claimed a unanimous decision victory 30-27, 30-27, 29-28.
Wexford fighter Dean Walsh also picked up his bronze medal today after making the semi-finals of the light-welterweight division.
Walsh's conqueror Vitaly Dunaytsev beat Britain's Pat McCormack to claim gold in today's final.
Meanwhile, Adam Nolan will have the consolation of qualifying for the world championships after missing out on a medal, as Belarusian welter Pavel Kastramin who defeated the Bray man in the quarter-finals, reached the final.