Paddy Barnes wrote himself into the history books with arguably his best ever performance at the ExCel in London tonight.
The Belfast light-flyweight, a bronze medal winner at the 2008 Olympics, became the first boxer in the 101-year history of the Irish Amateur Boxing Association to claim two Olympic medals with a 23-18 quarter-final win over India’s Devendro Singh Laishram this evening.
Barnes now joins Dr Pat O’Callaghan as the only Irish athlete to win two Olympic medals since Ireland entered the Olympic Games independently in 1924. O’Callaghan won double gold in the hammer throw in 1928 and 1932.
Tonight’s victory, which assures Barnes of at least another bronze, also guarantees Irish boxing a 4th medal from London 2012, a collection that matches the record medal haul of the Irish 1956 boxing squad in Melbourne.
Barnes and Lasihram sparred at the National Stadium in Dublin when the IABA hosted India in the lead up to these Games.
The word back from those spars was that Laishram was quite a handful, but Barnes, always a man for the big occasion, and boxing with precision behind an excellent defence, took the first round of tonight’s duel 7-5.
The 2010 European and Commonwealth champion upped the pace in the second. Lefts to the body and right hooks were the order of the day in a frame in which Lasihram ceded two points after receiving a public warning for dangerous use of his head. Barnes was now 17-10 up.
The Indian threw caution to the wind in the third and there were concerns when Barnes got a public warning for holding. Laishran piled on the pressure.
But the Holy Family BC star stood up to the barrage, and weathering the storm finished the round with a flourish, lashing home two precision rights from behind his high guard to record a deserved win and write himself into the history books.
He’ll now meet China’s Zou Shiming in Friday’s semi-final in a rematch of the 2008 Olympic semi-finals which Shiming won en route to gold in Beijing.
“I’m over the moon, Words cannot describe how I’m feeling. I knew he’d come forward with all guns blazing, but I felt stronger than him,” said the two-time Olympic medalist after his win.
“I trained hard and I know how good I am. I’m confident in myself. I’m going for the gold.”
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
75kg – Middleweight – Darren O’Neill (Ireland) lost to Stefan Hartel (Germany) 12-19
August 3rd – Last 16
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
49kg – Light-flyweight – Paddy Barnes (Ireland) beat Thomas Essomba (Cameroon) 15-10
August 5th – Quarter- final
56kg – Bantamweight – John Joe Nevin (Ireland) beat Oscar Valdez-Fierro (Mexico) 19-13
August 6th – Quarter-final
60kg – Lightweight – Katie Taylor (Ireland) beat Natasha Jonas (Great Britain) 26-15
August 7th – Quarter-final
52kg – Flyweight – Michael Conlan (Ireland) beat Nordine Ouballi (France) 22-18
August 8th – Semi-final
60kg – Lightweight – Katie Taylor (Ireland) beat Mavzuna Chorieva (Tajikistan) 17-9
August 8th – Quarter-final
49kg – Light-flyweight – Paddy Barnes (Ireland) beat Devendro Singh Laishram (India) 23-18
August 9th – Final (4.30pm session)
60kg – Lightweight- Katie Taylor (Ireland) v Sofya Ochigava (Russia)
August 10th- Semi-Finals (1.30pm session)
56kg – Bantamweight – John Joe Nevin (Ireland) v Lazaro Estrada-Alvarez (Cuba)
August 10th – Semi-Finals (8.30pm session)
52kg – Flyweight – Michael Conlan (Ireland) v Robeisy Carrazana-Ramirez (Cuba)
August 10th – Semi-Finals (1.30pm session)
49kg – Flyweight- Paddy Barnes (Ireland) v Zou Shiming (China)
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