Conlan and Barnes settle for bronze
Boxing:Michael Conlan followed Paddy Barnes out of the London Olympics this evening after coming up against masterful exponent of the sweet science in the shape of 18-year-old Cuban Robiesy Ramirez Carrazana.
Conlan (20) showcased plenty of his own skills but his opponent was a class above on the night and ran out a 20-10 winner to guarantee himself at least silver, though it will take some boxer to beat him in Sunday’s flyweight final.
“He was just the better man on the day and he was on form today,” admitted an emotional Conlan afterwards. “He threw some good shots and was catching me clean. I wasn’t coming back with counters. I’m really devastated but I got a medal in the bag and I’m happy with that too.”
Carrazana was cagey in the early exchanges of the first and preferred to let Conlan be the aggressor, but when the Irishman’s combinations were spent he popped up with ferocious speed and accuracy to almost score at will.
The Cuban won the first 6-3 and Conlan responded admirably in the second round, but was not getting a decent return for the punches thrown thanks to the elusive Cuban’s defence. In contrast, Carrazana rarely wasted shots and a 4-3 scoreline for the second sent him 10-6 ahead.
Conlan needed a big round in the last but was always going to be left exposed as a result. When he tuned his back, Carrazana pounced and pummelled the Belfast man on the ropes to score in a flurry and force a standing count.
It all amounted to a 10-4 round and resounding win for the 18-year-old, whose name we’ll no doubt be hearing for some time to come.
“It’s a big learning experience and it just shows me where I’m at, getting to the Olympic semi-final in my second year of National boxing,” added Conlan on RTÉ. “I didn’t box at junior. It’s been good for me and it’s been a great experience. Tonight I was beat by a better man. He was just a bit too sharp for me tonight.
“I suppose as well I’ve had two hard fights and that was the third hard one. I’m proud of myself and I’m just happy with where I got. He had a great defence and I didn’t expect it to be as tight. My defence wasn’t as good. I wish I could’ve got gold but (that’s) easier said than done.”
Four years ago, Barnes failed to convince the judges he landed a single blow on Shiming Zou of China. This afternoon they credited the Irishman with 15 clean punches and he still lost, this time on an agonising countback score of 45 points to 44.
Barnes put in the fiery performance he needed, but trailing by three heading into the last he had to tie down the elusive defending champion and beat the odds by overcoming an 11-8 deficit; the damage having been done in losing the first round 8-5.
He very nearly did it, rattling the man who beat him 15-0 in Beijing on a number of occasions in the final three minutes. A 7-4 victory in the last levelled the scores but the judges’ countback, the penalty shootout of boxing, landed the telling blow on the Belfast man and the three-time world champion marched into another Olympic final.
Barnes admitted: “He was very hard to pin down. The first round cost me the fight. I thought in the second and third rounds I did well. I thought I won the count-back because (I thought) I threw more punch. I just wish him well in the next fight. The first round cost me the fight. I had to work very hard after that
“He is so elusive, so he is. I tried my hardest to pin him down. He has so much ring craft. That’s why he is a three time world champion and an Olympic champion. He is so good, 15-0 to 15-15; some result.”