Paddy Barnes is three, three minute rounds away from becoming the first boxer in the 101-year history of the Irish Amateur Boxing Association to win two medals at the Olympic Games.
The Irish light-flyweight, a bronze medal winner at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, beat Thomas Essomba of the Cameroon 15-10 this afternoon to reach the 49kg quarter-final at the 2012 Olympics in London’s ExCeL
He’ll now meet India’s Singh Laishram next Wednesday evening knowing that a win will guarantee him at least another bronze.
Laishram forced Mongolia’s Serdamba Purevdori, a silver medal winner at the 2008 Olympics and a gold and bronze medal winner at the 2009 and 2011 AIBA World Championships, into a standing count in the third en route to a 16-11 win today.
Barnes and Laishram sparred when the IABA hosted India at a training camp at the National Stadium in Dublin last month.
“It was a very good performance from Paddy, very good, said Irish team manager Des Donnelly.
“The first fight is always difficult and he has that one out of the way now. Paddy has been in great form since he left the training camp in Dublin and he’s boxing very well. The next one is for a medal. They will all be boxing for medals next time.”
Barnes, working behind his trademark tight defence and popping out left jabs like a piston, took the first round 5-3 against Essomba, the pick of the punches being a wicked left which rocked the AIBA World number four ranked African back on his heels.
The 2010 European and Commonwealth champion, who was boxing for the first time at these Games this afternoon as he received a bye into the last-16, increased that lead to 11-7 by the end of the second. Essomba, who looked dangerous throughout, finally got the Holy Family BC stand out near the ropes in this frame.
But, Barnes, showing his vast experience, ducked out under the punches and was back in his opponents face before he’d barely had time to turn around.
The third frame saw a first for Irish boxing – Barnes briefly walking around with his hands by his sides and occasionally adopting a southpaw stance.
However, in between the slight change of tactics, the Irish Elite champion also found the target four times to seal an impressive win, Ireland’s second 15-10 decision at these Olympics.
Today’s victory sees the Ulsterman join John Joe Nevin, Katie Taylor and Michael Conlan in the quarter-finals.
All four will be in action on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday in what will be a crucial 96-hours for Irish boxing.