Boxing

Angry Sean McComb 'fed up with amateur boxing' after controversial exit at European Championships

After beating World champion Vitaly Dunaystev on Monday, Sean McComb bowed out of the European Elite Championships yesterday at the hands of England's Luke McCormack. Picture By Hugh Russell

DEVASTATED Sean McComb admits he is “fed up with amateur boxing” after his heartbreaking exit from the European Elite Championships in Kharkiv, Ukraine.

The 24-year-old, who toppled World number one Vitaly Dunaystev on Monday, came out on the wrong side of a controversial split decision against England’s Luke McCormack yesterday.

After a close first round, McComb won the second before appearing to dominate the third to seal the deal – or so he thought.

Three judges had the Englishman winning 29-28, while the other two had McComb scoring a 30-27 whitewash. Indeed, the Belfast man had a greater total of points, but the way they fell handed saw McCormack progress.

Even though beating Russian Dunaystev saw him reach the last eight, securing his place at August’s World Championships, the Holy Trinity light-welterweight was left stunned by yesterday’s reversal.

“That’s worth f**k all to me,” he said of his victory over the reigning World champion.

“I didn’t come here to get to the quarter-finals and qualify for the Worlds, that wasn’t the main objective. I’m 24, I made all the big sacrifices to come here and do well, to win gold.

“I just can’t get my head around how anybody could’ve given the last round against me. Going back to the corner at the end of the first, I said to Zaur [Antia] ‘right, I’ve lost that round, we need to do something different’.

“I went out and won the second and then I won the third handy. I haven’t watched it back but it felt to me that the third round was more clear than the second.

“It just doesn’t add up.”

McComb had been on funding from Sport Ireland after winning a bronze medal at the 2015 European Games but that came to an end earlier this year.

As a result, one of Ireland’s Tokyo 2020 hopes has been left to foot the bill for trips up and down to full-time training in Dublin while operating on a shoestring budget.

And although he still intends to compete in the Worlds later this summer, McComb says he won’t be able to prepare at the High Performance unit with the rest of the Irish team as he mulls over what the future holds.

“I haven’t missed a week in Dublin, putting everything on the line, making big sacrifices with no funding. Then you come away here, you beat a World champion and your next fight’s for a medal – that’s my funding. That’s the one I need to win.

“It’s not even that you have a medal taken away from you, it’s your funding and everything you’ve trained for. It’s just not worth it any more.

“Between now and the World Championships, I’ll not be able to afford to go to Dublin and train every week without a job – that’s a fact.

“I should be training full-time like all the rest of the athletes from all the other major countries at the Worlds, but I’ll not be able to.

“I’m just fed up with amateur boxing. I’ve settled down, I’ve had time to think about it, but it’s just the same oul sh*t.”

Thankfully McComb’s exit didn’t cast a shadow over the other Irish boxers in action yesterday, with Kurt Walker, Brendan Irvine and Joe Ward all securing at least a bronze medal by advancing to the last four.

Canal’s Walker set the record straight against Italy’s Raffaele Di Serio, claiming a split decision win over the man who beat him at the European U22s earlier this year.

He meets Ukraine’s Mykola Butsenko in tomorrow’s semi-final.

At flyweight, Rio Olympian Irvine was a unanimous winner against Spain’s Gabriel Escobar, setting up a meeting with either Dean Farrell (England) or Fabrizio Cappai (Italy) tomorrow.

Light-heavyweight Ward, the reigning European champion, cruised past Scotland’s Sean Lazzerini and will face Italy’s Valentino Manfredonia in the last four.

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