Paddy Barnes into Commonwealth Games final in Glasgow
Belfast’s Michael Conlan convinced he will get chance to fight for gold despite cut
Blood flows from a cut above Michael Conlan’s right eye as he fights Sean McGoldrick during their bantamweight semi-final at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. Photograph: Peter Byrne/PA
Northern Ireland’s Michaela Walsh kisses a tv camera after beating India’s Pinki Rani in the women’s flyweight semi-final at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. Photograph: Peter Byrne/PA
Paddy Barnes will be reunited with Devendro Singh-Laishram in the Commonwealth Games light-flyweight boxing final after a convincing win over Fazil Juma Raggwa in Glasgow.
The Belfast boxer beat the Indian on route to an Olympic bronze medal at London 2012 and the two will battle it out for gold on Saturday afternoon (2.45pm) after Barnes enjoyed a routine win over the 19-year-old Ugandan this evening.
Barnes commanded the ring from the off and forced Raggwa on to the ropes on a number of occasions when he landed combinations without doing too much damage. It was a convincing enough start for one judge to score the round 10:8 in the Belfast boxer’s favour.
The second followed a similar pattern with Barnes staying out of the lengthy reach of Kaggwa before again forcing the 19-year-old on to the back foot and dominating the Ugandan.
Kaggwa endeavoured to rescue a result in the third but Barnes was always in control and won all three rounds comfortably, following friend and fellow Belfast man and Michael Conlan into the finals.
Joe Fitzpatrick then made it three out of three for the Belfast men, with a unanimous win over Michael Alexander of Trinidad and Tobago.
The 19-year-old will face home favourite Charlie Flynn in tomorrow’s lightweight final (4.15pm) after winning all three rounds against the world number 15.
Welterweight Steven Donnelly of Ballymena had to settle for a bronze after a split decision defeat to India’s Mandeep Jangra, while middleweight Connor Coyle from Derry was comfortably beaten in three rounds by the experienced Vijender Vijender.
Conlan is convinced he will pass a pre-fight medical and go on to achieve gold in the bantamweight final after a cut over his right eye brought a premature end to his bout with Welshman Sean McGoldrick.
Conlan, whose face was running with blood, was given the verdict midway through round two by virtue of being ahead on the three judges’ scorecards with the judges ruling that the cut was the result of an accidental clash of heads.
And Conlan is confident he will convince the doctor he is fit to face England’s Qais Ashfaq in Saturday’s final when he undergoes his routine pre-fight examination.
Conlan, who was also cut on the top of his head in his first-round win over Matthew Martin, said: “I felt the cut straight away but it was cleaned up well by the doctor and I will be in the ring tomorrow.
“I’ve never been cut on the face or the head in my life until this tournament so it’s a bit unfortunate, but I’ve had it glued and it will be okay.
“I was happy with the way I boxed before it was stopped and I am just happy to be in the final. Tomorrow is going to be a golden day.”
The result was tough on McGoldrick and the Welshman admitted he would have loved the contest to go the full distance.
“It is not the outcome I would have wanted. I would rather have gone the three rounds and lost all three rounds to him, he’s a world-class fighter,” said McGoldrick.
Ashfaq, meanwhile, insisted he would not change the tactics that have taken him to his first major final because of Conlan’s obvious injury.
Ashfaq said: “You just have to not take any notice at all and concentrate on the tactics the coach gives you. And I know for a fact that if I perform to those tactics, I’ll beat him.”
A tall fighter, Walsh used her reach to full advantage to keep her opponent at distance and landed the more telling shots in the opening two-minute round.
That remained the case throughout the fight, although Rani was aggressive in the close-in encounters and connected when Walsh lost her balance in the second round.
The 21-year-old from Belfast continued to struggle somewhat with her footwork, but her punching was top notch and the judges agreed.
Although Rani scored from one of the three judges in each of the opening three rounds , she failed to make a big enough impression in the final two minutes, with Walsh almost jumping out of the ring when the referee lifted her hand in victory.
Walsh will now face the outstanding British Olympic champion Nicola Adams in Saturday’s final after the Yorkshire fighter scored a unanimous semi-final victory over Canada’s Mandy Bujold.
Walsh described the final meeting as a dream come through.
“Months ago I said my dream was to fight Nicola Adams in the Commonwealth final and when I go to bed tonight I will dream of that gold medal hanging round my neck.
“I know if I perform to the best of my ability I can beat her. She is the golden girl and I’m only a baby but in the ring it’s a different story.”
Light welterweight Sean Duffy claimed Northern Ireland’s third bronze medal of the Games when he was outclassed by 20-year Namibian Junias Jonas.
The 23-year-old from Craigavon fighter had no answer to the outstanding African fighter, whose speed, movement and power saw him claim a unanimous verdict after three dominant rounds.
Derry’s Sean McGlinchy will also go home with a bronze after another unanimous defeat, going down to outstanding 18-year-old David Myika from New Zealand in the light-heavyweight semi-final.
The 6’ 3” fighter from Hamilton dominated from the start against his 22-year-old opponent and will now go on to face Kennedy St Pierre from Mauritius who overwhelmed Nathan Thorley of Wales, with the fight stopped in the final round .
Alanna Audley-Murphy was well beaten in the first bout of the evening session, when losing all four rounds against Australia’s Shelley Watts.
The Belfast lightweight lost all three rounds before taking a standing eight count in the fourth and being forced to settle for the bronze medal.