Ireland now has its second Olympic Gold medal in the women’s lightweight division.
Kellie Anne Harrington overcame a stiff challenge from Brazil’s Beatriz Ferreira in the Tokyo Olympics women’s lightweight final Sunday afternoon at Kokugikan Arena. Harrington won by scores of 30-27, 30-27, 29-28, 29-28 and 29-28 to become the first Irish boxer in the division to medal since Katie Taylor went the distance in 2012, the first year of competition for women’s boxing in the Olympics.
Both boxers played to their strengths in the opening round. Harrington was effective when able to box on the outside, making Ferreira reach and miss on several occasions. Ferreira figured out a way to close the gap, connecting with looping combinations on the inside and doing well enough to win the round among three of the five judges.
Harrington rotated between southpaw and orthodox stance in round two, working her jab and trying to force Ferreira to follow her around the ring. Ferreira once again worked her way inside, connecting with an overhand right and left hook before Harrington was able to reset. Ferreira landed with a body shot late in the round, while Harrington connected with a right hook in the closing seconds.
Harrington led 20-18 on two cards through two, with the round even 19-19 on the other three cards to leave the Gold medal up for grabs in the third and final round.
Ferreira landed several right hands in the frame, while Harrington effectively scored with straight lefts from long range. Both boxers were warned for holding in the final minute but otherwise kept it clean. Harrington was a little quicker to the punch down the stretch in sweeping the final round and the fight.
Harrington entered Tokyo as the number one seed, advancing to the final following wins over Rebecca Nicoli (Italy) in the Round of 16 at the start of the tournament, Imane Khelif (Algeria) in the quarterfinals and Sudaporn Seesondee (Thailand) in the semifinals.
Sudaporn leaves Tokyo with Bronze, as does 40-year-old Mira Potkonen (Finland) who became the oldest ever boxer to medal in the Olympics to repeat what she accomplished five years earlier in 2016 Rio. Potkonen was eliminated in the semifinals by Ferreira, who entered Tokyo as the number-three seed. The Brazilian powerhouse also claimed wins over Shih Yi Wu (Chinese Taipei) in the Round of 16, Raykhona Kodirova (Uzbekistan) in the quarterfinals.
Potkonen was responsible for the gap in Ireland’s Gold medals at the weight, having eliminated Taylor in the Round of 16 in 2016 Rio. France’s Estelle Mossley would go on to win Gold that year.
Harrington helped restore glory in Ireland following her performance in Tokyo.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox