Kurt Walker advances to EU quarter-finals with classy display

Canal counter-puncher Kurt Walker got off a winning start at the European Union Championships in Valladolid yesterday, defeating Bulgaria's Stefan Ivanov. Picture by Hugh Russell
Neil Loughran

CLASSY Kurt Walker advanced to the last eight of the European Union Championships with a straightforward victory over Bulgaria’s Stefan Ivanov in Spain yesterday.

However, there was disappointment for Clonard flyweight Quinn who bowed out after losing his preliminary round showdown with Bulgaria’s Rosenov Banabakov on a split decision.

Bantamweight Walker looked impressive in seeing off Ivanov, counter-punching beautifully and landing some eye-catching right hands. He now advances to a quarter-final meeting with Poland’s Jaroslaw Iwanow which, bizarrely, won’t take place until Thursday.

England’s Peter McGrail, who defeated Walker in the Commonwealth Games final back in April, is on the other side of the draw from the Canal stylist.

Meanwhile, the Irish Athletic Boxing Association (IABA) has revealed that it voted against Gafur Rakhimov at last weekend’s AIBA election.

The controversial Uzbek businessman was elected as president of amateur boxing’s world governing body, winning 86 out of 134 votes at the election in Moscow despite being on a US Treasury Department sanctions list for alleged links to organised crime – claims he strenuously denies.

This has led to increased fears that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) will sanction AIBA, having threatened the removal of boxing from the Tokyo Games in 2020.

Considering boxing is Ireland’s most successful Olympic sport, that would be a disaster.

The IABA normally doesn’t say who they voted for, but yesterday revealed that they cast their ballot for defeated contender Serik Konakbayev.

A statement read: "It is unusual for the IABA, as is the case with most national federations, to reveal how they voted in an election but given the intense commentary surrounding this particular election it was felt by the board of directors and central council that it was in the best interests of Irish boxing to do so in this instance."

“It is central council that decides how the IABA vote is to be cast in all AIBA elections and, as always, the vote is utilised so as to best further and protect the interests of boxing as a sport.

"Our decision was made following careful consideration of what was in the best interests of the sport and without any further information on the president other than that what we have learned through the media.

"The IABA remain concerned about the future Olympic status of boxing given the outcome of the election particularly, given that boxing remains Ireland's most successful Olympic sport ever.

"We acknowledge that there remains significant confusion in the aftermath of the AIBA election but are hopeful that the IOC and AIBA can reach resolution on the issues between them. The IABA is committed to assisting in any way possible to achieve that end.

"We are comforted by a number of factors not least, the IOC's commitment to the athletes, the boxers, that they will not be penalised as well as the AIBA President's comments that if a choice has to be made between boxing in the Olympics and one man that there is no choice.

"The IABA will not be commenting any further on this matter."

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