Nicola Adams capped her comeback from complicated shoulder surgery by making more history as she was crowned the first European Games boxing gold medallist in Baku yesterday.
Adams hailed herself “the comeback kid” after a typically classy performance to dispatch Poland’s experienced Sandra Drabik in the Azerbaijan capital.
Adams, who was the first female boxer to win Olympic gold in London two years ago, had missed the chance to add a first World Championship title due to injury earlier last year.
Adams said: “I feel fantastic and I can’t believe I am bringing home another piece of history for Great Britain. It’s great to be able to create history all the time.
“I trained really hard for these European Games. I just wanted to show everybody what I am about and that I am here to stay.
“I am like a comeback kid – you can never keep me down for long.”
After the tight opening exchanges Adams turned on the style, snaking home a pair of fine left hands in the second and building on her advantage in a stylish third.
By the final round there was little doubt that the imperious Adams would once again be wearing a gold medal around her neck despite Drabik’s brave bid to turn the tide.
Adams, who will now look to build towards the qualifiers for next year’s Rio Olympics, added: “Touch wood, I haven’t had any injuries so far and I am hoping it will stay this way all the way to Rio.”
Belfast’s Brendan Irvine missed out on a light-flyweight gold medal as he dropped a split decision to rock-hard Russian Bator Sagaluev at the Crystal Hall.
The 19-year-old Irishman had been one of the finds of the tournament and looked a good bet to go all the way as he traded heavy blows with his more experienced opponent.
But Sagaluev’s sharper work caught the eye of the judges and left Irvine with mixed feelings as he stepped up to take a proud silver medal.
Irvine said: “It was a very close fight and I thought I did enough to win it. I’m very proud of my achievement because I’m only 19 years old and this is my first major competition for Ireland.
“I’ve got a lot of publicity out of it but I need to go back to the gym where it all starts and learn. I wanted the gold medal when I came here but I never thought I would get this far.”
Earlier, Sandy Ryan’s brave bid for gold was ended by the fists of Russian world champion Anastasia Beliakova, who won their light-welterweight semi-final by unanimous decision.
A dejected Ryan, who had been beaten by the same opponent in the World Championship final earlier this year, had no complaints about having to settle for a bronze medal.
And she insisted that once the disappointment eased, she will use the experience in Baku to build towards qualifying for Rio in the Olympic 60kg category.
Ryan said: “The right girl won on the day but I’m gutted because I know I can beat her with more experience and it is all part of the learning curve.
“I will move back down to 60 and I will be a lot sharper and you’ll see a lot better performances from me at 60 – it’s my natural boxing weight.”
Joe Joyce booked his place in Friday’s super-heavyweight final with a clear points win over Frenchman Tony Yoka.
Although Yoka proved a step up from Joyce’s first two opponents who had each failed to finish the first round, he could not stop the 29-year-old’s march to the gold medal match.