Kurt Walker was narrowly beaten by American Duke Ragan in the featherweight quarter-finals at the Olympic Games in the early hours of Sunday morning.
The Lisburn boxer lost a 3-2 split decision. Ragan took the first round 10-9 on all five judges' scorecards, and it was that which made the major difference in the end.
Walker looked a different fighter in the second round, with three judges calling it for him to Ragan's two. In the third round, four judges marked in Walker's favour to Ragan's one, but it was not enough.
Ragan's edge may have been in his coach, Wexford man and former head of Irish boxing's high performance unit, Billy Walsh. It was Walsh who first recognised Walker's talents as a 17-year-old.
It was a particularly tough loss for Walker as he had beaten the number one seed, and the reigning world champion, Mirazizbek Mirzakhalilov of Uzbekistan in the previous round. Sunday's victory secured at least a bronze medal for Ragan.
1 August 2021; Kurt Walker of Ireland reacts after his men's featherweight quarter-final bout with Duke Ragan of USA at the Kokugikan Arena during the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
"It's tough, but it was a great fight," Walker told RTÉ.
"I pushed a little bit too late. I'm proud of myself. I won two rounds out of three. It's just that he had a great first round. Madness. Just so close.
"I was trying to find my distance, and so was he, but he was just a bit sharper in the first, and that won him the fight.
"I'm proud of myself. I beat the world champion.
Kurt Walker vs Duke Ragan Olympics scorecard
"Everyone back home, they only see us once every four years. I've shown everyone how good I am. People will know my name after these Olympics."
Asked if the Tokyo Games had whet his appetite for the Paris Olympics, Walker responded:
"Possibly. Possibly. I'll see. I'm only 26. I have another eight years of boxing at least in me, and I'm only getting better."
Walker's exit means that Ireland has just one boxer - Kellie Harrington - remaining in competition at the Olympics. Aidan Walsh, who had already secured himself a bronze medal, was forced to withdraw from his welterweight semi-final against Pat McCormack due to an ankle injury.
'It was a good fight, I pushed on too late. I won 2 rounds out of 3. It was so close. I'm proud of myself, I beat the world champion'@kurtwalker7 bows out in style#olympics #tokyo2020 #RTESport #boxing
? Watch - https://t.co/lLKXNhKPkF
— RTÉ Sport (@RTEsport) August 1, 2021