Vincent Hogan: Walsh warns Nevin against complacency
Billy Walsh has warned John Joe Nevin to expect a ring war in the ExCel Arena tomorrow night as he bids to become Ireland's first medal winner at the London Olympics.
The Mullingar bantamweight is, according to Walsh, looking forward to tomorrow's bout with hard-hitting Mexican, Oscar Fierro Valdez, "more than any other fight he has had in his life".
Nevin will guarantee himself bronze at least if he overcomes Valdez in a contest expected for the Olympic ring at approximately 8.45.
The Beijing Olympian has collected bronze at successive World Championships, but Walsh is warning him against underestimating the Mexican, a surprise winner over fourth seed Anvar Yunusov in the last round.
"Valdez won't back off," Walsh predicted last night. "He's a real hard opponent, rugged and persistent. I've used the bull and the matador analogy about fights before, but this really is one of those fights."
A bronze medallist at the Worlds three years ago, the Mexican is not unknown within the Irish camp. He recovered from a four-point deficit against David Oliver Joyce at those championships in Milan to record a 16-11 verdict and Valdez also claimed gold at this year's Americas Olympic qualifying tournament.
"John Joe is going to have to be very careful with this fella," said Walsh. "Valdez comes forward all the time, he throws a lot of punches. John Joe's got to keep moving and scoring with his jab.
"If he keeps his composure, the fight is definitely winnable."
Light-fly Paddy Barnes is the only Irish boxer due in the ring today (2.0), when he gets his Olympic campaign under way against Cameroon's Thomas Essomba.
Barnes, a bronze medallist four years ago, has been waiting impatiently for this moment.
"He's absolutely champing at the bit after spending the last week just twiddling his thumbs," said Walsh. "Paddy's not exactly the most patient guy you'll ever meet and I've a feeling he's ready to take it out on Essomba."
A win for Barnes will mean he boxes for a medal next Wednesday night.