OLYMPIC bronze medallist Paddy Barnes has warned the fighter standing in the way of his London dream that he should be very afraid.
Barnes stopped Hungary's Istvan Ungvari in the second round of his last-16 bout at the AIBA Euro Olympic Qualifiers in Trabzon, Turkey, in ruthless fashion yesterday and victory tonight will see him become an Olympian once again.
Athy's David Oliver Joyce is also one win away from London after victory in Trabzon yesterday, but it was Barnes' amazing verbal volley to his lightweight opponents that got all of the attention.
"I was glad to get the first fight out of the way it feels brilliant to be back on track," the Belfast fighter said.
"He (Ungvari) ran and he was in fear for his life, and once I got him in that corner I was never letting him out.
"I hurt him and he was wincing and I was smiling, telling him not to carry on ... and he didn't. I think he wanted to qualify for the Olympics in running not in boxing."
Barnes admits that he knows very little about tonight's opponent, Romanian Stefan Caslarov, but that won't faze him.
"I don't care," he said. "They should all fear me because I'm the best here."
David Oliver Joyce, who agonisingly missed out on Olympic qualification last year - losing in a count-back at the World Championships - finds himself one win away from qualification and he was confident going into this afternoon's fight (Irish-time) after a commanding 22-14 win over Germany's Arthur Bril.
Standing in Joyce's way is Lithuanian Evaldas Petrauskas and, unlike Barnes, Joyce is wary of his opponent.
"I sparred him in Ukraine and he is very physical, a very strong lad," he said.
"I'll just have to get my tactics right and see what happens."
Two further Irish boxers will be in last-eight action today, with Adam Nolan, who must reach the final to qualify, facing Tamerlan Abdullayev of Azerbaijan and Tommy McCarthy facing Jozsef Darmos of Hungary, knowing that he must win the heavyweight championship to get a ticket to London.
Meanwhile, light-heavyweight Joe Ward still has a remote chance of going to London if he is chosen by the AIBA as a wildcard for the event, although wildcards are usually given to boxers from developing nations.
Ward has spoken of his disappointment at losing out on his Olympic dream.
"I'm devastated," he said. "Knowing that I did enough to win but to not get the verdict is heartbreaking.
"Knowing that I won't be at the Olympics and that I've gone out is sad for me," he added.