Hale moves step closer to European medal after Yerevan win

Belfast lightweight JP Hale got off to a winning start at the European Championships in Yerevan yesterday. Picture by Hugh Russell
Neil Loughran

BELFAST'S John Paul Hale announced his arrival on the elite international stage when he advanced to the quarter-final of the European Championships with a power-packed display yesterday.

The Star lightweight was handed a tough draw in Yerevan after being paired with experienced number three seed Arslan Khatev, from Finland.

But 20-year-old Hale came through that test with flying colours to claim a 3-2 split decision win, setting up a last eight clash with all-action Georgian Artyush Gomtsyan – sixth seed at 60kg - tomorrow.

Earlier in the day, Gabriel Dossen and Sean Mari also moved closer to medals with impressive performances.

Galway middleweight Dossen, long regarded as one of the top talents in the country, won his second bout in the Armenian capital – following up Monday's victory over Spain's Miguel Entrena Cuadrado by outclassing Bulgarian number four seed Mofid Rami Kiwan.

The 21-year-old used his quick hands to dominate from the off, quickly finding his range and leaving Kiwan bamboozled in the first two rounds, comfortably finishing the job in the third to advance on a unanimous 5-0 decision.

Dossen now boxes for a bronze medal tomorrow afternoon, taking on Mindaugas Gedminas after the Norwegian saw off French fifth seed Moreno Fendero.

Mari also advanced to the last eight with 4-1 majority decision over Omer Ametovic from Serbia – the Dublin flyweight simply proving too strong and solid for the number three seed.

Mari faces Kiaran McDonald tomorrow, after the Englishman edged Scotland's Lennon Mulligan on a 4-1 split.

Unfortunately it wasn't to be for Irish captain Adam Hession, however, as he lost out to Belgium's Vasile Usturoi on a 4-1 split in their last 16 featherweight contest.

Hession, a European U22 silver medallist last year and reigning Irish featherweight champion, picked up a nasty gash on his forehead early on and struggled to find his top form as the fight progressed.

Two Irish fighters make their European bow today, with Mullaghbawn welterweight Eugene McKeever stepping between the ropes to face Serbian number two seed Vakjid Abbasvo this afternoon while, in the evening session, heavyweight Jack Marley gets up and running against Greece's Vagkan Nanitzanian.

Number three seed, and fresh off his gold medal success at the European U22s in March, Marley is fancied to make an impression on the elite stage at international level.

Also in action this evening is Luke Maguire. The Cork light-middle has already had one fight, getting the better of Poland's Daniel Piotrowski on Tuesday to set up a showdown with Georgian third seed Eskerkhan Madiev, who received a bye into the last 16.

Joining Dossen and Mari in action tomorrow, meanwhile, is light-fly Ricky Nesbitt, who has had to wait to make his European debut. The Holy Family, Drogheda fighter faces Buglaria's Ergyunal Sebahtin in a quarter-final bout.

St Paul's bantamweight Dylan Eagleson also returns to the ring after an eye-catching victory over Turkey's tough Muhammet Sacli on Tuesday. The 19-year-old showcased his skills to advance to tomorrow's quarter-final where Spanish second seen Gabriel Escobar Mancunano lies in wait.

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