Kellie Harrington will fight for a gold medal on Sunday morning after securing at least an Olympic silver, courtesy of an accomplished lightweight semi-final victory over Sudaporn Seesondee of Thailand.
The Portland Row pugilist prevailed on points by a split decision – winning on three of the five judges’ cards – after asserting her authority on proceedings in the third and final round.
Harrington beat the Thai fighter in the final at the World Championships in 2018, but the opening round proved a cagey affair in a clash of styles.
Seesondee’s may possess admirable footwork and speed, but Harrington’s effortless natural power means her shots are far more powerful weapons when they do land.
Harrington probed with her left jab before connecting with a couple of potent right hooks in an opening round where both fighters spent much of their time feinting and looking to create an opening.
The judges awarded Harrington the first round 3-2.
Seesondee struck early with a straight right in the second round. A left hook and a couple of rights followed from the Thai fighter as she grew in confidence. However, an otherwise tentative Harrington did land with a meaningful overhand left.
Harrington seized back the initiative in the deciding round, connecting with a solid left hook, while Seesondee struggled to find her range despite unleashing a flurry of punches.
The left hook was a shot that Harrington continually looked to deploy and she even had time to flash a broad smile in the knowledge that the result was almost in the bag.
The judges awarded her the bout on points in a split decision, with three judges scoring it 29-28 to Harrington, while the remaining two judges favoured Seesondee on that scoreline.
Harrington will fight Beatriz Ferreira of Brazil in the gold medal bout.
Ferreira should prove a formidable opponent at 6am Irish time on Sunday morning after she dominated the second semi-final against Finland’s Mira Potkonen.
The Brazilian was much too busy for an opponent who will turn 41 in November and eased to victory via a unanimous decision.