Updated: September 16, 2013
An exceptional performance on Sunday from Ireland’s latest world boxing champion, Kildare’s Willie Donoghue.
Donoghue claimed light-flyweight gold at the World Junior Championships in Kiev, Ukraine following a thrilling win over Daniel Gonzalez of the USA.
Two of the three judges gave Donoghue, who boxes out of the St Michael’s Athy BC, the first round and two of the three judges gave the Californian the second to leave it all square going into the third.
But Donoghue pulled out all the stops in the final frame – one big right sailing in right over the top in the final ten seconds probably being the punch that clinched the gold – to claim an historic World title for Ireland on a split decision.
Final scores: 30-27, 27-30, 29-28.
Donoghue won four fights to secure gold in Kiev and is the second Irish boxer after Joe Ward, the 2011 European Elite champion, to win World Junior gold.
“We’re absolutely thrilled with the victory, said Irish team manager Jim Walsh. “It was a close final but once again Willie showed his class to win gold for Ireland. What a performance. Over the moon!”
Donoghue and his Irish team-mates Kieran Molloy and Sean Conroy, who both won bronze, were presented with their medals today.
“It was an absolutely fantastic performance by Willie and we’re delighted to be taking home one gold and two bronze medals from Kiev, said Irish coach Billy McClean, who was working Ireland’s corner with Tommy Hayes in the Ukrainian capital.
“The squad have been absolutely fantastic out here this week and every one of the team gave it absolutely everything.”
Donoghue, Molloy and Conroy helped Ireland finish in 6th place in the medals table at the 57-nation tournament.
Russia, Cuba, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, USA and Ireland, in that order, commanded the top six places in the medals table.