CONNOR Coyle stormed into the Commonwealth Games semi-final with a magnificent victory over South African, Siphiwe Lusizi at the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre in Glasgow on Wednesday evening.
The Galliagh man, now guaranteed at least a bronze medal from his first Commonwealth Games appearance, will meet former Olympic and World Championship bronze medalist, Vijender Singh in Friday’s last four bout.
It will be a major step up in class for Coyle against 28 year-old Vijender who became the first Indian boxer to qualify for three Olympic Games and the first to win a medal when he took bronze in Beijing in 2008.
That bronze medal in Beijing earned Vijender celebrity status in India and he has since appeared as a model and in Bollywood film ‘Fugly’.
Vijender cruised into the semi-finals with an impressive victory over Trinidad and Tobago’s Aaron Prince prior to Coyle’s last eight bout and claimed he would need to be ‘at his best’ to defeat Coyle.
“Once you get to a semi-final in any competition, you really have to be at your very best and you prepare for that the way you would prepare for the gold medal fight,” said the Indian.
“I’m going to be up against Connor Coyle and that will be a very big challenge for me, but I am feeling really great.”
Coyle himself looked highly impressive throughout his quarter-final bout against Lusizi. The South African’s attempts to goad Coyle in the first two rounds backfired as the Derry man refused to get involved in a toe-to-toe brawl, instead frustrating his opponent with a classy, clinical display.
In fact Coyle was picking his shots at will and landed a crushing blow to the head of the South African who was given a standing count in the final seconds of the second round.
Winning the opening two rounds comfortably, Coyle then needed to be at his slick, composed best as the South African adopted a much more aggressive style, needing a stoppage to progress.
However, Coyle was given a unanimous verdict to send him into the last four of the tough middleweight division.
It was an excellent performance from the St Joseph’s ABC clubman who has yet to lose a round since his opening bout in the last 32 stage.
He joins fellow Derry man Sean McGlinchey in Friday’s semi-finals and his win on Wednesday night ensured the N. Ireland boxing team’s medal haul has risen to nine.
See further coverage and reaction from both Coyle and McGlinchey in tomorrow’s ‘Derry Journal’.