Kellie Harrington has missed out on the gold medal at the prestigious Strandja Multi-Nations tournament, after being beaten by Finland’s Mira Potkonen. Harrington was defeated on a split decision in the Lightweight final, which could have gone either way.
Potkonen has been a thorn in the Irish camp for several years, holding a fantastic record against several boxers. The Finnish fighter eliminated Katie Taylor at the Rio Olympics in 2016 and has defeated both Harrington and Amy Broadhurst in two major tournaments. She once again defeated both fighters at the Strandja Multi-Nations tournament on her way to gold.
The final bout was scrappy and it suited Potkonen.
From the first round, the Fin started aggressively, coming forward and tried to land some big right overhands. Harrington’s brilliant ring IQ and footwork was once again on display as she superbly evaded most of the shots which came her way. Potkonen had a simple strategy but it was effective as she kept coming forward and put pressure on Harrington who struggled to find some early rhythm.
In the second round Harrington found some success as she began to slide and slip the Finnish boxers jabs and caught her with some lovely shots. Harrington was able to use the ring to her advantage but couldn’t quite manage the distance between her opponent and found it difficult to make any real inroads.
In the final round the Dublin fighter began to find her feet and Potkonen slowed down. Once again however both fighters were unable to land any telling shots which would separate the fight. Harrington’s magnificent head and lateral movement made it tricky for her opponent to catch her but at the same time she found it challenging to land any shots of significance herself.
In the end Potkonen was rewarded for her assertiveness and hostility, as she took the fight to Harrington. The judges narrowly ruled the victory in favour of the Fin, on a split decision.
The fighters embraced after the final bell and Harrington didn’t look overly disappointed after the scorecards were revealed. In what is obviously a disappointing defeat, this is only the beginning of what is set to be a huge year for the Dubliner.
The 2018 World Lightweight champion only recently returned from a thumb injury which has kept her out of the ring since last June. To win silver on her come back, after a seven month lay-off, will give her great confidence going into the next crucial months.
Harrington’s next focus turns to the European Olympic qualifying tournament which is scheduled for March in London. Women’s Olympic boxing is restricted to just three weight classes, flyweight, lightweight and middleweight. The top six fighters in each weight category will secure a place at the Tokyo Olympics later this summer.