Donnelly grabs much needed win for Irish boxing as he moves into welterweight quarter-finals
Ballymena welterweight Steven Donnelly is emerging as Ireland's unlikely boxing hero at the Rio Games.
Donnelly made it two wins out of two with a 2-1 split decision victory over 29-year-old Tuvshinbat Byamba of Mongolia after an absorbing contest in the 69kg weight division.
He is the first Irish boxer to win back to back bouts in the tournament and has secured a place in Saturday's quarter final where he faces gold medal favourite Mohammed Rabii in his bronze medal bout.
The Mongolian native outpointed Kenyan Rayton Okwiri in the contest immediately before Donnelly's but although he won on a unanimous 3-0 decision he wasn't particularly impressive.
“There was less pressure than in the first fight. I was chilled in the dressing room and just listened to my coaches' plan,” said Donnelly who said he was looking forward to taking on the world champion on Saturday.
Donnelly looked the more energetic fighter from the bell and took the first round on two of the judges' cards and did the same in the second round. He kept out of trouble in the third and did enough to secure the win on a 30-27; 29-28; 28-29 verdict.
There was a palpable sense of relief in the Irish camp with the result after a traumatic week which saw medal contenders Paddy Barnes and Joe Ward crash out in the first round and Michael O'Reilly being pulled out after failing a dope test.