BY CHRIS MCNULTY
JASON Quigley has been beaten to a World Championship gold medal by Kazakhstan Zhanibek Alimkhanuly.
In the middleweight final in Almaty, it was the home fighter, Alimkhanuly who took a 30-27, 30-27, 29-28 unanimous decision to win gold.
It was the first defeat in 33 fights for Finn Valley ABC man Quigley, who has become the first Irishman ever to go better than bronze at the World Championships.
Quigley has always had his sights set on topping the world – and he came so close.
The Ballybofey boxer was clearly emotional when he spoke after the bout.
“It’s just heartbreaking,” he said.
“I’ll go away and look at the positives from it, but it’s hard to take at the moment.
“If anyone had said to me that I’d win a medal out here, I’d have taken the hand off them.
“To get the final and get beaten by a lad like that – he’s a top-class operator. He boxed his way through good lads to the final as well.”
Midway through the first round, Quigley dropped to the canvas and took a standing count for his troubles, with all three judges edging the score 10-9 in favour of the Kazakh.
Quigley came out with a rugged edge in round two and went in search of salvation, landing some real power on the local man with the right.
Southpaw Alimkhanuly proved a slippery customer and got through for a few scores of his own to take the round and leave Quigley and the foot of the mountain heading into the final three minutes.
There, we saw the spirit of Quigley as he went toe-to-toe and eye-to-eye with the Kazakh for three gruelling minutes.
Quigley got the nod from one of the judges in the final round, but it was Alimkhanuly who took the prize to go top of the podium.
Quigley said: “It’s just a shame that I couldn’t go one step further.
“It has been a dream of mine from day one, not only mine but my family know everything that I’ve put into this sport. It’s everything they’ve put into it as well.
“This is my job, this is my life. It is everything I do.
“I knew before I got in there that he was a good lad.”
Quigley had created history yesterday when he defeated the Russian Artem Chebotarev in such impressive fashion. It had been one of Quigley’s best ever bouts – and secured a silver medal for the Irish and European Champion.
He added: “Yesterday words couldn’t describe how I felt in a good way. Today, it’s in a bad way.
“I give my whole life to this sport and I know, when I go away and look it, that I’ll be absolutely honoured to be the first Irish boxer ever to get this far.”
Since his father, Conor, whispered the words into his ear following the 2010 National Senior final defeat to Darren O’Neill in Dublin, Quigley has used ‘second sucks’ as a mantra.
It was clearly on his mind again as he assessed the achievement and positives of taking a World Silver medal.
He said: “When you’re a boxer and you get out of that ring defeated, you don’t look at it that way for a few days.”
While Quigley was slugging it out with Chebotarev in yesterday’s semi-final, Alimkhanuly had the feet up after his opponent, Antony Fowler, withdrew because of a hand injury.
“His semi-final was a grueller and to have to get back in the ring less than 24 hours later to do it all again, when his opponent had a walkover, that was a telling factor,” said a proud Irish Head Coach Billy Walsh.
“We can’t ask for anymore. He has had five really tough contests through this competition.
“By God, didn’t he leave everything. He went to the soles of his boots. Hats off to him, he is a true legend.”
Following wins over Vijender Singh, Aston Brown, Zoltan Harsca and Chebotarev to win silver, those words are echoed by the whole of Donegal.
Jason Quigley, if it were even in doubt beforehand, has now joined the pantheon of the great Irish amateur boxers.
JASON Quigley hopes to fight again later this year, as he continues his recovery from a broken hand.