Aoife O’Rourke came through a fiercely tough test this afternoon in her second bout of the Strandja International boxing tournament in Bulgaria, edging out 38-year-old Turkish veteran Sennur Demir on a split decision in her middleweight (75kg) quarter-final clash.
From the opening bell, it was clear that this was going to be a completely different contest to the Castlerea boxer’s first-round contest against home country fighter Dobromi Georgieva. Demir was a comfortable match for O’Rourke in terms of size and range, and her southpaw stance made it difficult for O’Rourke to find the target with the left-hand crossing shots that were so effective on Tuesday.
A first-round that looked quite even, with neither boxer landing any decisive hits even though both looked to move forward where possible, was scored 4-1 in favour of O’Rourke, but the second round was given to the Turkish fighter by the same margin as she broke through O’Rourke’s defences with a series of inside jabs.
There was a further setback for Roscommon’s Olympic hopeful when she was deducted a point for a referee’s warning in the third round. However, in what was by far her most impressive three-minute spell, she rocked Demir with three decisive hits, even knocking her opponent to the canvas on one occasion, though the referee deemed this to be a slip rather than a knockdown.
Following this victory, O’Rourke will be in semi-final action tomorrow, this time against American fighter Naomi Graham. Graham, a North Carolina native, was utterly dominant against Kachari Bhagyabati of India immediately after the O’Rourke bout and will present another big physical challenge.