Ireland is back in the gold medal picture in the women’s lightweight division.
Top seeded Kellie Anne Harrington reached the finals of the Tokyo Olympics after a hard-fought split-decision win against Thailand’s Sudaporn Seesondee. All five judges scored 29-28 points, two of them for Seesondee, while Harrington from Ireland won the three majority cards on Thursday afternoon at the Kokugikan Arena in Tokyo.
Harrington was favored ahead of the Olympics to restore Irish fame to the division that Katie Taylor captured in the first edition of women’s boxing at the London 2012 Olympics.
The nine minutes of semi-final action proved much tougher for Harrington than they did in their three unanimous wins that led to that point. Seesondee earned her place at the table by scoring a surprise win in the round of 16 against number four seeded Simranjit Baatth and then overtaking British Caroline Dubois to guarantee a medal for Thailand.
In two rounds Seesondee was very much in the fight and had the chance to claim another surprising victory. Oddly enough, she managed to win round three with the exception of two cards, just so the scores wouldn’t get in her way.
Harrington will now face the Brazilian Beatriz Ferreira for easy gold.
Ferreira has proven to be a handful for every female lightweight she has faced in Tokyo so far. Mira Potkonen had to learn that lesson the hard way as the inspiring 40-year-old two-time Olympian from Finland was banned from the semi-finals.
Potkonen entered the fight as the oldest boxer of all time, breaking the record by more than three years. She stood a chance for gold after taking two previous wins against Ferreira despite losing their last encounter last February.
The semifinals on Thursday were far more one-sided, with Ferreira dominating from the opening bell. Ferreira was quicker to draw with her strong right hand and also landed several left hooks around Potkonen’s high guard to sweep all five scorecards every round.
Potkonen leaves Tokyo with her second bronze medal in tow. She won the same award at the 2016 Rio Olympics, although during those Games she was best known for her staggering annoyance with Taylor in the round of 16. It shares third place with Seesondee in Tokyo.
Harrington and Ferreira will fight for gold on August 8th.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox