Aidan Walsh boxes clever to progress to quarter-final at Tokyo Olympic Games

Ireland's Aidan Walsh (left) in action against Cameroon's Albert Eashash Ayissi during their Men's Welter (63-69kg) Preliminary bout at Kokugikan Arena on the fourth day of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in Japan. Martin Rickett/PA Wire. 
Andy Watters

AIDAN Walsh progressed to the Men’s welterweight quarter-finals at the Tokyo Olympic games with a shut-out 5-0 win over Cameroon’s Albert Mengue Ayissi.

The Belfast fighter now faces Merven Clair of Mauritius on Friday (4.51am) for a place in the semi-finals and the guarantee of at least a bronze medal.

Throughout a composed Olympic debut, Walsh (23) used his height and reach in a technically excellent performance which frustrated Ayissi who was docked points in the first and last rounds for illegal blows. Walsh won the first round on all but one of the five judges’ scorecards but when the deducted point was taken into account it meant he was in control of the contest.

Ayissi charged forward at every opportunity in the second but Walsh moved out of range and scored with well-timed counters. Only a knock-out in the final round could deny him victory and although his Cameroon opponent did have some successes, Walsh was never in any real trouble and he took the win on the scorecards 30-25, 30-25, 29-26, 28-27 and 30-25.

“It’s amazing to get the first one out of the way and focus on the next one. I just listened to the coaches’ advice and did what they were telling me,” he said afterwards.

“My strategy going into it was to keep it long, keep the basics and to do what the coaches said.

“They always have the best advice and you just have to put your trust in them and listen to the advice that’s given to you. But keep it simple and what’s worked for me and got me here.”

His sister Michaela was knocked out of the Women’s Featherweight event on Monday but she was at ringside to cheer Aidan on yesterday.

“To do it alongside my sister is even more amazing,” Aidan added.

“It’s incredible, it’s just one of those ones you can’t even describe, because it’s surreal.

“Especially in boxing, like sometimes you hear of brothers in the family, but brother and sister? Obviously with the female boxing coming along so good it’s amazing. Obviously I’m disappointed for my sister, but now she’ll be rooting for me. We always root for each other - it doesn’t matter what tournament, win, lose or draw.”

Victory over Clair on Friday will not only guarantee Walsh a medal, it will in all probability set up a rematch of his European Olympic qualifying tournament semi-final against Great Britain’s Pat McCormack should he win his quarter-final against Bobo Usmon Baturov of Uzbekistan.

But Walsh won’t be looking any further than Clair who pulled off a surprise win against Jordan’s number-four seeded Zeyad Ishaish yesterday.

“It is always good to win. You always come here to win,” Walsh said afterwards.

“When you get a win it is incredible. But it is now on to the next one. I think he (Ayissi) was deducted a point in the first round for hitting on the back of the head. But I was taking each moment as it comes and listening to the instructions.

“It was one of those fights no matter whether you were up or down you couldn’t rest on your laurels. You just have to stay focussed and always stay composed.”

Meanwhile, Women’s middleweight medal hope Aoife O’Rourke takes on China’s Li Qian in a round of 16 contest today scheduled to begin at 10.18am.

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