Brendan Irvine and Michael O’Reilly into last 16 in Doha

Dean Walsh bows out in first round as World championships get underway

Brendan Irvine and Michael O'Reilly have progressed through to the last 16 of the World Championships in Doha, but there was disappointment for Dean Walsh at the Ali Bin Hamad Al Attiya Arena on Tuesday night.

Irvine was the first Irish boxer to compete out of the 243 fighters scheduled to compete at the 10-day tournament and the Antrim teenager looked mature beyond his years when claiming a 3-0 unanimous points win over Nico Hernandez of the USA.

The 7,700-seater arena is an impressive set-up, with a huge image of team captain Michael Conlan adorning the main entrance to the building, but crowd numbers were only in their hundreds for the opening evening session.

One would imagine that the quiet atmosphere probably suited the laidback 19-year-old Irvine, with the light-flyweight showing no sign of nerves at his first senior world competition.


Irvine peppered Hernandez with right hands in the opening round and although he appeared slightly lackadaisical in the following round, with his hands hanging low, the Irish man reasserted his control in the last.

“It was a good fight, not only for me, but for Ireland, to get us off to a winning start,” said Irvine following the win, explaining that his laidback manner hid a certain level of anxiety.

“I’m always quiet anyway but especially before the fight, you’d be that extra bit quieter because of the nerves, there’s that extra bit of pressure.

“I was listening in the centre of the ring to what my coaches were telling me. We worked on the game-plan today and thank God it paid off,” he added.

Head coach Billy Walsh emphasised that an opening victory was imperative as Team Ireland attempt to build momentum at the tournament, which also doubles up as a qualifier for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

Walsh’s nephew Dean came out the wrong side of a 2-1 split-decision loss to Venezuelan Luis Dian Arcon.

The Wexford light-welterweight started well, winning the first round after throwing the more accurate shots at close quarters before attempting to box at range, but his bullish opponent began to physically assert himself in what looked to be a physically-exhausting bout.

The Venezuelan won the second and last round, with a late flurry of punches from Arcon appearing to nick the win.

“He put an awful lot into it but there was plenty left in his engine – maybe it was nervousness or whatever. It was his first World Championships so it’s all new to him,” said the Irish head coach.

Portlaoise middleweight O’Reilly got Ireland back to winning ways with another 3-0 unanimous decision win, defeating Ukraine’s Valerii Kharlamov.

It had seemed as though 22-year-old O’Reilly was hit with a tough opening draw, but he made light of that theory with a classy performance.

With Kharlamov coming forward, O’Reilly threw a number of shots from all angles, landing a series of perfectly-times uppercuts. The Ukrainian forced his opponent into a war of attrition in the second stanza but O’Reilly remained composed and regained control in the final round.

“He was putting the pressure on in the second round, maybe because he knew he was down in the first,” said O’Reilly afterwards. “I just kept to the tactics I had going in – to hit him and move – and in the last round I took over and dominated from there.

“It’s amazing to be here at a World Championships, it could be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity really so while I’m here I’m going to give it everything I have.”

Belfast lightweight Seán McComb takes on Lindolfo Garca Delgado of Mexico in Wednesday's afternoon session, while Wexford welterweight Adam Nolan meets Lithuanian Eimantas Stanionis in the evening bouts.