Kellie Harrington is one fight away from marking her return to the boxing ring with a gold medal at the prestigious Strandja Multi-Nations tournament in Bulgaria.
The 2018 World Lightweight (60kg) Champion secured her place in Saturday’s final with a resounding unanimous decision victory over Bulgaria’s Denicia Eliseeva. Harrington showed why she is regarded as one of the best in the world, looking cool and composed in the ring. Harrington landed several right hooks and quick combinations to seal victory in all three rounds.
The home favourite, Eliseeva, who once beat Katie Taylor on points back in the same tournament in 2011 but was unable to threaten Harrington.
The Dubliner hasn’t boxed competitively since withdrawing from the lightweight final at the European Games in Minsk last June after picking up a thumb injury.
Harrington will now face rival Mira Potkonen in the final on Saturday. This is at the moment unquestionably the clash between the world’s top two amateur lightweights and has the potential to be the dress rehearsal for the lightweight gold final in Tokyo later this summer.
Mira Potkonen is a Finnish fighter who beat Katie Taylor on a split decision on her way to gold at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Harrington has won three fights from three at the tournament. In her first fight, she beat Poland’s Aneta Rygielska, a former World Youth champion, by unanimous decision on her return to action. She then followed that up by beating Ukrainian Hanna Okheri to book her place in the semi-final.
Boxers from 71 countries are competing in the tournament which is seen as an important warm-up event prior to the start of the qualifying events for the Tokyo Olympics.
The European Olympic qualifying tournament is scheduled for March in London. The top six fighters in the lightweight in London will secure a place at the Tokyo Olympics later this summer.
In the same tournament, Roscommon’s Aoife O’Rourke had to settle for a bronze medal after she was beaten in her middleweight semi-final by the USA’s Oshae Jones in a unanimous decision. The Castlerea woman was the second Irish female after Katie Taylor to ever win a European Championship gold medal.
🎙 INTERVIEW 🎙— IABA (@IABABOXING) January 24, 2020
"I'm looking forward to tomorrow and putting in a big performance"
Some post-fight thoughts from @Kelly64kg on the week so far for Team Ireland and looking ahead to tomorrows final!#RoadToTokyo2020 #TeamIreland #Strandja #20×20 #CantSeeCantBe pic.twitter.com/3CVbCynTSQ