AFTER another punch-perfect performance on the international stage at the weekend, Michaela Walsh feels she is finally starting to get her rewards – at just the right time.
The 25-year-old was one of four Irish fighters to come back from the weekend’s Nicolae Linca Elite Golden Belt tournament in Romania with a gold medal around her neck, joining Joe Ward, Grainne Walsh and Aoife O’Rourke.
Competing against some of the top nations in the world, Walsh blazed through the 57 kilo division with an impressive performance against Serbia’s Andeal Brankovic - who she spectacularly dropped – before beating home favourite Lacramioara Perijoc in the final.
As a result the two-time Commonwealth Games silver medallist will head to next month’s World Elite Championships in India full of confidence, while her gaze is never too far removed from the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.
“Every time I’m away, I feel like I’m getting better,” she said.
“The girl I fought in the final, she was at the Europeans and got a bad decision against the Russian I fought, so I knew I was going in against a good quality operator.
“It was good to come out on top, especially considering she was fighting in her own country because there were a lot of bad decisions going around. I did everything right and thankfully it went my way.
“This is a big year for me, but this isn’t just about one year – this is years and years of knocking on the door. Everything’s starting to come together now and I’m getting the results I should always have been getting.
“The scoring system changes all the time, judges are scoring fights differently, so you watch the boys as well to see what styles are working, what ones aren’t working. It’s just about working out the right tactics that the judges are looking for.
“Everything’s working for me at the minute, but I still need to improve massively. I want to be World and Olympic champion, that’s what I’m building towards.”
The 2017 European Union champion will be part of the Irish team that travels to Germany for a training camp later this month ahead of the Worlds in New Delhi, where she hopes to lay down a marker before the Olympic cycle kicks in next year.
Walsh knows she is right up there in the mix with the elite level operators at her weight, but intends to continue making steady improvements so she is ready to produce more podium-topping performances.
“Less than one per cent can make a difference – it can be in your diet, your training, it can be in anything. I’m just trying to learn as much as I can,” added Walsh, who has appealed for any potential sponsors to get in touch on Twitter (@michaelaw57).
“When you’re away watching someone like Joe Ward, the things he does, you’re picking things up from everyone.
“No-one’s perfect, everyone can improve, but the margins are so small. One punch at the end of a round can win you a fight. When I talk about gold medals only, that’s not just about winning gold medals – that’s about gold medals in everything.
“I want to be the best trainer, the hardest worker, everything. I just want to improve every day.”
Walsh has bounced back impressively from the disappointment of her controversial Commonwealth final defeat to Skye Nicolson last April, and admits she would another crack at the Australian in the upcoming Worlds.
“Ah definitely, I’d love to get her in my first fight,” said Walsh, who will be competing in her second World Elites.
“I’m not looking for revenge or anything, but if we were to meet it would be a different outcome this time.
“I want to go [to India] and win it outright - I’m going to see the best 57 kilo boxers in the world there. We’re all chasing those spots for Tokyo, and everybody’s going to see where they are.”
AIDAN Walsh made sure it was a ‘gold medals only’ weekend for his fighting family after following his sister’s lead by finishing top of the pile at the Celtic Box Cup in Dungarvan.
Elder sibling Michaela did the business at the Nicolae Linca Elite Golden Belt tournament in Romania on Saturday, taking top honours at 57kg.
And Commonwealth Games silver medallist Aidan was in imperious form down in Waterford as he added the light-welterweight crown to his growing haul of trophies.
Walsh saw off Keith Flavin in the last eight before edging out former Irish 64kg champion Dean Walsh, nephew of former Irish head coach Billy, in a tough semi-final.
It would be no surprise if the pair met again at the Irish Elites in February next year as the race for Tokyo 2020 gets under way.
In Sunday’s final, the Monkstown man produced a masterclass to defeat Ben Demmery (Downend Police ABC) to secure the coveted belt.
Club-mate Jordan Swain came up short in the next fight on finals day, dropping a split decision to Muskerry’s Scott Long in their senior B welterweight showdown.
However, there was joy for fellow Monkstown welter Daryl Clarke as he stopped Dungarvan’s Stephen Shasby in the senior A final.
In the youth A light-flyweight division, Holy Family’s Diarmuid Toland scored a unanimous victory over Cookstown’s Craig Bigger, while Dungloe’s Danny Boyle stopped David Galligan (St Saviour’s) in the senior B light-heavy final.
Loughshore super-heavy Dean Scullion came up trumps on a split decision to take the senior A title, edging out Willie Reilly (St Paul’s), while Michael Hennessy (St Monica’s, Newry) lost out to Alborz Sabet (Sportsklubben 1909) in the elite middleweight final.