LONDON’S calling for Cork welter Christina Desmond after she claimed her second title of 2019 at the National Elites at Dublin's National Stadium on Friday night.
The Fr Horgan’s BC welterweight beat Offaly’s Grainne Walsh on a 4-1 split decision to claim the 69kg crown in a repeat of last February’s final which Desmond won on a 3-2 split.
Walsh shaded the first round with sheer aggression but Desmond got her backhand going in the second and third and found the target with sufficient regularity to earn a deserved win.
The Macroom southpaw is now in the driving seat for selection for the Irish team for the European Olympic qualifiers which begin in London on March 13.
Female welters need to finish in the top five at the Copperbox Arena in the English capital to book a ticket for the 32nd Olympiad. The semi-finalists (top four) automatically qualify.
The fifth position, pending confirmation from the International Olympic Committee, will be decided after a box-off between the losing quarter-finalists.
Likewise, if Desmond reaches the quarter-finals she'll get two shots at becoming the only Irish boxer besides Joe Ward to represent her country at the Youth Olympics and the Olympics because if she wins she’s through and if she loses she’ll go into a box-off.
“I’m delighted with the win. It was a scrappy fight but a win’s a win and I'll take it, said Desmond who had Tom Power and Micky Power working her corner. Hopefully, I’ll get the nod (for the Irish squad for London).
"There’s no team picked yet so we’ll see how it goes. I wouldn’t have got the first round but I took the second and third clearly and I'm happy with that.”
Meanwhile, Cork's Callum Walsh, with Brian and Ted Barry working his corner, asked enough questions of Antrim’s Commonwealth silver medalist Aidan Walsh in the men’s Elite welter final last Friday to suggest that it’s only a matter of time before he secures the big one.
Aidan Walsh, who was only edged out on a 3-2 split decision by England’s current European champion Pat McCormack at the World Elites in Russia this year, beat the Riverstown BC southpaw on a unanimous verdict.
But the Ulster orthodox had to deploy his entire arsenal before his hand was raised in victory, with Walsh, who knocked out Eugune McKeever in the last four, always looking a threat.
Mick O’Brien, President of the Cork Board, hailed Desmond’s victory as historic and believes it's only a matter of time before Walsh brings home an Elite belt.
“Once again Christina has delivered on the Elite national stage and congratulations to her and the Fr Horgan’s BC on a magnificent victory. Congratulations also to Callum Walsh at the Riverstown BC. I have no doubt he will win an Elite title," said O'Brien who was at ringside at the Stadium.
“Cork boxing nearly won two Elite welterweight title in back-to-back finals on the night and both boxers and their clubs and coaches deserve enormous praise.
“Christina has won two Elite belts in the same year and that's a historic achievement it has never been done by a Cork boxer,” added O’Brien.