Grainne Walsh makes quarter-finals at World Championships

Welterweight takes out Polish champion on her debut at this level

Grainne Walsh (second from the right in the front row) is through to the quarter-finals at the Women’s World Boxing Championships in Kazakhstan. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Grainne Walsh (second from the right in the front row) is through to the quarter-finals at the Women’s World Boxing Championships in Kazakhstan. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

 

Grainne Walsh became the third Irish boxer to come though the draw in the Women’s World Boxing Championships in Kazakhstan. The gutsy welterweight won on a unanimous decision over Poland’s Hanna Soleckah, which takes her to the quarter-final of her first World Championships. Just three weight divisions qualify for Rio – fly, light and middleweight.

The Tullamore boxer earned a bye into the second round with her 3-0 score over Soleckah taking her into the last eight. Walsh, along with light welterweight Kellie Harrington and Katie Taylor, continue to extend Irish interest in the championships.

It was a toe to toe bout against the Pole and while Walsh was down after the first round on the judges’ cards she lifted and maintained her tempo for the closing three.

“I felt really comfortable throughout the fight,” she said. “I was anxious. I weighed in Wednesday. I was the last boxer to box in the Irish team and it was a long wait to Sunday but once today came I was geared up for the fight.

“It feels unbelievable. I’m only boxing four years. I actually can’t believe I’m even here, never mind after beating the Polish champion. It’s just a dream to be here and I’m absolutely enjoying every minute of it.”

Soleckah went down in the second round but the referee called it a slip as the two went to war. But it was Walsh who was landing the better scoring shots.

It was the final rounds that gave her the win as she landed some clean rights on Soleckah as both boxers flagged. But it was Walsh who weathered the final two minutes the stronger fighter and despite some attention for a bloody nose, deservedly earned the judges’ decision.

“As soon as you see you are up there with the top standard in the world it just pushes you on to do the best you can do and that’s what I’ll be aiming for on Tuesday,” she added.

“It was toe to toe for the whole four rounds and you need fair fitness to keep it going. That’s why you have to push through. It’s only right minutes at the end of the day. You have to be prepared for war.”

Walsh faces a tough opponent next in Kazakhstan’s Valentina Khalzova.

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