Michael Conlan is through to the quarter-finals of the 2012 Olympic Games following an impressive win at the ExCel in London tonight.
But Adam Nolan bowed out despite an heroic performance in his battle of the southpaws with Russia’s Andrey Zamkovoy, a silver medal winner at the 2009 AIBA World Championships in Milan.
Conlan hammered out an 19-8 decision over Ghanaian flyweight Duke Akueth Micah on his Olympic debut.
He’ll now meet France’s Nordine Ouballi in a repeat of their 2011 AIBA World Championships clash which the Irish Elite champion won 20-17 in Baku, Azerbaijan.
Ouballi, who was also beaten by Conlan (18-16) in a Round Robin in France this summer, edged out (19-18) 2007 AIBA World champion Raushee Warren (USA) tonight.
Conlan, switching from orthodox to southpaw, took the opening frame of tonight’s duel with the durable African 5-2, two excellent rights and one thudding left helping the Ulsterman to a three-point advantage.
That lead was stretched to 12-5 by the end of the second, Conlan, still switching, picking off some wonderful shots before adding another seven points to his total in the third and restricting the hard-working Micah to just three.
It was a faantastic display from the 20-year-old – who had his parents and brother amongst the vociferous Irish fans at the ExCel – on his Olympic debut, and he’s now joins John Joe Nevin and Katie Taylor in the last-eight at the 30th Olympiad.
“I’ve got a fight under my belt and hopefully I can keep it going now. I was confident from the beginning, I’m always confident because I know I have the ability to beat anybody, said Conlan.
“The belief that the team gives me and Zuar and Billy give me is great because they really do boost my confidence. He’s (Nordine Ouballi) a quality opponent. It’s going to be a hard fight, but I’m confident in my ability and confident in the coaching staff we have behind us.”
Conlan will meet Ouballi next Tuesday evening. If he wins then he will become the second boxer from the St John Bosco BC in Belfast to win an Olympic medal as the great Freddie Gilroy claimed bronze at the 1956 Games in Melbourne, one of four Irish boxers to finish in podium positions at that particular Olympiad.
Meanwhile, Nolan, who had already won one contest in London heading into tonight’s last-16 clash, asked plenty of questions of Zamkovoy and was just one point in arrears at the end of the first, the Wexford man rocking his opponent with a big right in the opening three minutes.
Zamkovoy knew he had to up his performance in the second, and he delivered some fine counters as Nolan continued to take the fight to his opponent. However, boxing well on the retreat, Zamkovoy took the stanza 6-4.
Nolan threw absolutely everything into the final frame as was getting through mid-way through the round, but with the Irish supporters sensing a comeback, Zamkovoy once again picked up the pace and forced the Irish Elite champion into a standing count in the final few seconds before being handed an 18-9 decision.
“We’re delighted with Michael’s win. He’s got his first fight under his belt now and that’s the main thing. Adam gave it absolutely everything against an experienced Russian and you couldn’t have asked for anything more and we’re delighted with his performance, ” said Irish team manager Des Donnelly.
2012 Olympic Games
July 28th – Last 32
56kg – Bantamweight – John Joe Nevin (Ireland) beat Dennis Villy Ceylan (Denmark) 21-6
75kg – Middleweight – Darren O’Neill (Ireland) beat Muideen Olalekan Akanji (Nigeria) 15-6
July 29th – Last 32
69kg – Welterweight – Adam Nolan (Ireland) beat Carlos Sanchez Estacio (Ecuador) 14-8
August 1st – Last 16
56kg – Bantamweight – John Joe Nevin (Ireland) beat Kanat Abutalipov (Kazakhstan) 15-10
August 2nd – Last 16 (1.30pm session)
75kg – Middleweight – Darren O’Neill (Ireland) lost to Stefan Hartel (Germany) 12-19
August 3rd – Last 16 (8.30pm session)
52kg – Flyweight – Michael Conlan (Ireland) beat Duke Akeuth Micah (Ghana) 19-8
69kg – Welterweight – Adam Nolan (Ireland) lost to Andrey Zamkovoy (Russia) 9-18
August 4th – Last 16 (1.30pm session)
49kg – Light-flyweight – Paddy Barnes (Ireland) v Thomas Essomba (Cameroon)
August 5th – Quarter- final (8.30pm session)
56kg – Bantamweight – John Joe Nevin (Ireland) v Oscar Fierro Valdez (Mexico)
August 6th – Quarter-final (1.30pm session)
60kg – Lightweight – Katie Taylor (Ireland) v Queen Underwood (USA) or Natasha Jonas (Great Britain)
August 7th – Quarter-final (8.30pm session)
52kg – Flyweight – Michael Conlan (Ireland) v Nordine Ouballi (France)
Irish 2012 Olympic squad
49Kg (Light-flyweight) Paddy Barnes (Holy Family BC, Belfast)
52kg (Flyweight) Michael Conlan (St John Bosco BC, Belfast)
56kg (Bantamweight) John Joe Nevin (Cavan BC)
60kg (Lghtweight) Katie Taylor (Bray BC, Wicklow)
69kg (Welterweight) Adam Nolan (Bray BC, Wicklow)
75kg (Middleweight) Darren O’Neill (Paulstown BC, Kilkenny)
Team Manager: Des Donnelly
Coaches: Billy Walsh, Zuar Antia, Pete Taylor
Physio: Conor McCarthy
Strength & Conditioning: John Cleary
Performance Psychologist: Gerry Hussey