"Be fast, hit first!" - Kurt Walker one win from medal after stunning world champ
"My confidence is through the roof."
Kurt Walker was up against No.1 seed and reigning world champion Mirazizbek Mirzakhalilov in the Last 16 of the featherweight contest at Tokyo 2020. Not a bother to him.
The Lisburn native delivered the boost to Team Ireland's boxers after a tough couple of days, and results, in the ring.
Mirzakhalilov was the gold medal favourite but Walker cared not a jot as he got off to a lightning start in the first round. He had the better of the Uzbekistan fighter but the second round was much tighter.
In the third round, though, his power, speed and belief saw him finish strongly. It was a split decision win, but it was not close - 4-1 the judges went in his favour.
Following the win, which got him into the quarter final and one win away from securing a medal, he spoke to RTÉ about his tactics for the bout.
"Be fast, hit first and get out last. Hit and don't get hit. Hit him more times than he hits me!"
'My confidence is through the roof... I knew I was smarter and faster than him'@kurtwalker7 will fight for a medal after beating the number 1 ranked Mirzakhalilov#olympics #tokyo2020 #RTESport
📺 Watch live - https://t.co/b2OI4OoWVJ
📱 Updates – https://t.co/Umx3jdaCj3 pic.twitter.com/pAZI34WDnf
— RTÉ Sport (@RTEsport) July 28, 2021
Walker later added, "It’s indescribable. I just need to get my head level again and try and relax and recover, but I am buzzing! I just tried to keep him off – feinting, jabbing, body work. I knew I was fit so I knew I could definitely do it for two rounds anyway and get the two rounds up, which I did. I knew he was going to push on strong, so I am delighted.
"I knew he is relentless. I knew it was going to be a tough fight. I have a really big heart, I really do, and I knew I could dig deep. I have the best coaching staff in the world, 100 per cent. I was delighted to see how happy they were – it brings me on, I am buzzing!
"This will be hard topped. This is the highlight of my career so far. Biggest stage in the world – beating the champion of the world – a fairytale definitely."