Kurt Walker sensationally beat Uzbekistan’s Mirazizbek Mitzakhalilov on a 4-1 split decision to move into the quarter-finals of the Olympic Games in Tokyo this morning.
Mitzakhalilov, the No. 1 seed and the favourite for gold, simply had no answer to Walker’s speed, head movement and precision in a top class 57kg contest.
The Lisburn man started fast and maintained the pace throughout, catching the world champion with combinations to the head and body to take the first round 4-1.
Mitzakhalilov had a better second round, particularly in the middle part of the stanza, but Walker finished strong to take three of the judges with him.
The Canal BC stand out, the current European champion, upped the pace again in the third frame and repeatedly tagged the Uzbek with head shots en route to a thrilling win.
Walker, who picked up a cut over his right eye in his previous win, picked up another cut near his left eye against Mitzakhalilov.
The Irish champion, who dismissed the cuts as “scratches”, will fight for at least bronze on Sunday versus Duke Ragan of the USA.
“We knew we had to win the first round, the first two, actually, the coaches gave me the best tactics and I’m just so delighted, Walker told RTE Sport.
“Be fast, hit first and get out last were those tactics. Hit him more times than he hit me.”
“My confidence was through the roof, there are always doubts in your head before the fight, but the team believed in me. I believed it too and it has happened.
“I knew I was smarter than him and that’s enough to win me a fight in most cases. I knew he was going to come on strong but he was very predictable and I was able to read him to my benefit.”
57kg Kurt Walker (Ireland) beat Jose Quiles (Spain) 5-0
81kg Emmet Brennan (Ireland) lost to Dilshod Ruzmetov (Uzbekistan) 0-5
52kg Brendan Irvine (Ireland) lost to Carlo Paalam (Philippines) 1-4
57kg Michaela Walsh (Ireland) lost to Irma Testa (Italy) 0-5
69kg Aidan Walsh (Ireland) beat Albert Menque (Cameroon) 5-0
75kg Aoife O’Rourke (Ireland) v Qian Li (China)
57kg Kurt Walker (Ireland) beat Mirazizbek Mitzakhalilov (Uzbekistan) 4-1
60hk Kellie Harrington (Ireland) v Rebecca Nicoli (Italy) or Esmerelda Falcon (Mexico)
69kg Aidan Walsh (Ireland) v Mervin Clair (Mauritius) or Hussein Eashash (Jordan)
57kg Kurt Walker v Duke Ragan (USA)