Barnes battles his way to bronze
Olympic Boxing:Paddy Barnes guaranteed himself an Olympic medal and a place in the men’s light flyweight semi-final this evening with a 23-18 win over India’s Devendro Singh Laishram at the ExCel Arena in London.
The Belfast man is the fourth Irish boxer of a six-strong team to secure a medal and the first ever to claim a podium place at separate Games, having won bronze in Beijing four years ago.
Barnes took the first two rounds and went into the third with a seven point lead, but he lost the third after being docked points for holding his opponent, who stretched the rules throughout himself.
Laishram was aggressive from the first bell and, at times, tested the patience of both Barnes and the referee with some cheap shots and high elbows. He lead with his head when grappling with Barnes in the second round and could have been disqualified but the man in the middle settled for a two-point deduction in a round Barnes won 10-5 for a 17-10 lead.
Barnes took the first 7-5, with his inside left doing a lot of the work. As always he covered up when he needed too and defended well under sustained pressure.
There was little chance heading into the last that Barnes would relinquish the lead but Laishram won it 8-6 after Barnes was penalised for responding in kind to some dirty tricks.
"I'm over the moon," said Barnes on RTÉ. "Words can't describe how good Im feeling. I knew he would come forward all guns blazing. I tried to box a bit but in the fight I felt stronger than him, so I tried to push him back in the first two rounds. He was wrecked in the last round but I got a bit complacent, I was just trying to block and move but he caught me a few silly shots. I knew the fight was in the bag and coasted to the end.
"I was bit nervous from the other fight because he's a dangerous opponent but I'm extremely confident. The three top flyweights in India, I've beaten the three of them, so I knew I could fight. I was really confident because I beat the other two top boys."
Defending champion Shiming Zou, who beat Barnes 15-0 in the Beijing semi-final, stands between the Irishman and silver. The 31-year-old is a skilful operator and Barnes will need to be at his best on Friday if he is to go one step further than he did four years ago.
"Shiming Zu beat me 15-0 the last time," added Barnes before joking: "My aim in life is to score one point and after that get Billy to throw the towel in and that's how I'll get the gold medal. Just score one point."