Thursday 8 December 2016

Paddy Barnes defeat spurred on Ireland team-mate Michael Conlan

Published 14/08/2016 | 19:56

Michael Conlan is into the quarter-finals of the Olympic bantamweight competition in Rio
Michael Conlan is into the quarter-finals of the Olympic bantamweight competition in Rio

World champion Michael Conlan revealed how the shock defeat suffered by his team-mate Paddy Barnes spurred him on to win his first fight of the Rio Olympics in style on Sunday.

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The Belfast 24-year-old is one of only two Irish boxers still standing in the competition after a series of shock reversals, including Barnes' points defeat in the light-flyweight division last Monday.

Conlan scored an entertaining unanimous decision win over Aram Avagyan of Armenia in his opening bantamweight contest and will next box against Russia's Vladimir Nikitin in the quarter-final on Tuesday.

Conlan said: "I was gutted for Paddy because he's my best friend and he only lives 10 minutes away - we're more like family and to see him lose was heartbreaking for me.

"I wanted us to win gold together. Seeing all the other lads lose I was gutted for them, but I still think I'm going to go and win the gold."

Conlan, who won the world bantamweight title in Doha last year, admitted he took some time to get into his stride against a rugged opponent.

Despite the outcome rarely looking in doubt, he will know he needs to tighten up if he is to next overcome Nikitin, to whom he lost unanimously in the 2013 World Championships in Kazakhstan.

He added: "He (Nikitin) beat me just after I'd moved up to 56kg. I watched it on YouTube when I was in the gym the other day, and I think it was down to the new scoring system.

"I'm delighted I'm fighting him. He takes a lot of punishment and I'll be giving him more."

Press Association

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