Kelli Harrington impresses on her World Championship debut
Irish lightweight through to last 16 in New Delhi after 5-0 win
Kellie Harrington impressed in her opening bout at the World Championship in New Delhi. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho
Now trading at the lighter 60kg, down from light welterweight, Harrington earned a place in the last 16 of the draw, unanimously winning her opening bout against New Zealand’s Troy Garton on all five judge’s cards.
When five times World Amateur champion Taylor turned professional following the Rio Olympic Games, Harrington seized her opportunity to move down in weight into a division that would offer a path towards Tokyo 2020.
The Dubliner had already shown her class two years ago when she was narrowly beaten in the 64kg final by China’s Wenlu Yang in Astana, Kazakhstan.
She is now trying to convert that silver medal into something more in the lighter division, where Finland’s Mira Potkonen also trades, but in the other side of the draw. Potkonen is the top seed.
Potkonen pulled off the shock of the 2016 Olympic Games when she beat defending Olympic champion Taylor in the Irish woman’s first bout in Rio.
It was a comfortable start for Harrington, who largely fought the three rounds against Garton from a distance, her right jab keeping her out of trouble throughout the nine minutes and the backhand also landing.
Picking off scores was Harrington tactic for all but the dying seconds of the final round when a desperate Garton knew she was chasing the bout.
Garton wanted to scrap but Harrington, along with her corner man Zaur Antia, wanted to stay out of trouble. That’s what the southpaw did as she stalked her Kiwi opponent, firing in scoring shots and moving away.
The second round was especially dominant from Harrington, who kept her discipline and refused to be sucked into a punching match.
It was a clever beginning to the tournament from Harrington, who now faces local favourite Sarita Laishram Devi in her next bout. Devi defeated veteran Sandra Brugger from Switzerland 4-0 to earn a chance against the Irish woman in the last 16.